At a town hall hosted by CNN on Tuesday night, President Joe Biden said that COVID-19 vaccines will be available to all Americans by the end of July. This is made possible by a new vaccine buy that his administration secured last week of 200 million doses from Pfizer and Moderna.
“By the end of July, we’ll have over 600 million doses — enough to vaccinate every single American,” Biden said when asked about vaccine availability. “We’ll have reached 400 million by the end of May and 600 million by the end of July.”
With a two-dose regimen for the vaccines, 600 million doses is enough to cover the roughly 255 million adults in the U.S., and the roughly 264 million people over 16, which is the age group that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for. Moderna, which is currently approved for people over 18, has begun clinical trials for its vaccine on ages 12 to 17.
Biden clarified that this doesn’t mean that everyone will be able to get a vaccine by August, but that the doses will be available. The biggest bottleneck, he claimed, would be having the people and supplies to get the vaccines administered. Most states have been saying that the biggest bottleneck currently is lack of supply, but Biden’s senior COVID adviser, Andy Slavitt, said late last month that there are also constraints regarding the speed at which the vaccine can be administered.
“We are facing two constraining factors,” said Slavitt in January. “The first is getting enough supply quickly enough, and the second is the ability to administer the vaccines quickly once they’re produced and sent out to the sites.”
At the time, along with announcing the administration’s plan to send vaccines directly to pharmacies, Biden’s COVID team also announced that the Department of Health and Human Services would begin to allow retired nurses and doctors to administer the vaccine. They also announced that they would be opening more vaccination sites, which have been limited in some states.
Biden reiterated the steps his administration has taken to expand vaccine distribution and administration on Tuesday night. “We have made significant strides increasing the number of vaccinators. I issued an executive order allowing former retired docs and nurses to do it,” he said. “So we have a significant number of vaccinators…. Plus, we’ve opened up a considerable number of locations where you can get the vaccination.”
Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser on COVID, said last week that the vaccine would open up in availability to all who want one in April, though there may not be enough vaccine doses to meet the demand then.
“I would imagine by the time we get to April, that will be what I would call, for better wording, ‘open season,’” Fauci said. “Namely, virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated.” That would put the U.S. on track to get a majority of Americans vaccinated by late summer, said Fauci, reiterating similar claims made by Biden.
Since Biden took office, his administration has been steadily increasing distribution of the vaccine. State allocation has gone up by 57 percent since January 20, and the administration announced on Tuesday that it would be further upping distribution by 23 percent. Over 1.6 million doses are currently being given a day on average, which is over Biden’s goal of 1.5 million a day. And, in more promising news, as of Wednesday, 1 in 20 Americans have received both doses of the vaccine and 1 in 8 have received their first dose.
Two weeks ago, the nation passed a significant landmark where more people had received at least one dose of the vaccine than the number of COVID cases. But the good news has been tempered by the fact that experts are now saying that we may not reach herd immunity until 90 percent of the population has been vaccinated — and even the most optimistic estimates say that that won’t be achieved until November. There’s also the question of whether we will achieve that goal at all, since polls have shown that around 15 percent of Americans are adamantly opposed to receiving the vaccine.