The U.S. government has secured contracts for another 200 million doses of coronavirus vaccine, meaning there are now enough shots in the pipeline to inoculate “all Americans,” President Biden announced Thursday.
The 200 million doses — 100 million from Pfizer and 100 million from Moderna — brings the total vaccine supply locked in by the U.S. to 600 million, Biden said at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.
“We’ve now purchased enough vaccine supply to vaccinate all Americans,” Biden, who was flanked by Dr. Anthony Fauci, said after touring NIH’s Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory, where the vaccine now manufactured by Moderna was created.
Since the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both require two shots for efficacy, 600 million doses translate into 300 million individual vaccinations. The U.S. population numbers roughly 331 million people, so Biden’s pledge of universal inoculation is slightly exaggerated.
Regardless, Fauci and other infectious disease experts say the country can achieve herd immunity to the vicious virus once 70-80% of the population is vaccinated.
There’s still a long road ahead in the battle against the virus, which has killed more than 475,000 Americans and wrecked the U.S. economy.
The 200 million newly purchased doses won’t be delivered until the end of July.
That is one month earlier than initially expected, though, and Biden said his administration is well on its way to making good on his promise of vaccinating 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office.
“That’s just the floor,” Biden said. “Our end goal is beating COVID-19.”
The pace of inoculations could accelerate further if Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine candidate — which only requires one shot — receives approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
Fauci, Biden’s chief pandemic adviser and the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has been instrumental in his administration’s vaccination campaign, the president said.
“It’s been a hell of a learning process,” said Biden, who wore a face mask for the entire event.
While taking a victory lap for the new vaccine contracts, Biden also said the U.S. would be much further along if his predecessor had done a better job.
“It is no secret that the vaccination program was in much worse shape than my team and I anticipated,” he said.
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