Washington, Mar 2 (efe-epa).- President Joe Biden pledged Tuesday that the United States will have enough Covid-19 vaccine doses to inoculate the country’s entire adult population by the end of May, or two months earlier than originally anticipated.
The head of state made that promise after the White House said US pharmaceutical giant Merck has agreed to help manufacture American rival Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine, the third to become available in the US after being authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday.
“Now, with our efforts to ramp up production, we will have enough vaccines for every American by the end of May,” Biden said at the White House.
Biden had promised three weeks ago that the US would have a ready supply of 300 million Covid-19 vaccine doses – enough to inoculate the entire adult population – by the end of July.
The president also announced that the vaccine rollout will prioritize educators and school and child-care employees, saying the goal is to ensure those individuals receive at least one dose before the end of March.
“It’s time to treat in-person learning like the essential service that it is,” Biden added.
The president said his administration was making progress despite having inherited a chaotic rollout from his predecessor, Donald Trump, whom Biden’s team accuses of lacking a clear plan to combat the pandemic and efficiently distribute vaccines.
The priority since the change of administration on Jan. 20 has been to boost the US’s capacity to produce the vaccines and make them widely available, Biden said.
Now that the Johnson & Johnson shot has been added to the list of vaccines authorized by the FDA, the White House said it can commit to raising the amount of doses supplied on a weekly basis to US states to 15.2 million.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, moreover, has an advantage over the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna shots being used in the US in that only one dose is required and it does not need to be stored at extremely low temperatures.
By contrast, the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses per person for maximum effectiveness and the jabs must be administered three and four weeks apart, respectively.
Roughly 15 percent of Americans have already received at least one of the two doses, an amount equivalent to nearly 77 million doses. EFE-EPA