President-elect Joe Biden has an ambitious — and potentially impossible — plan to ramp up coronavirus vaccine production and distribution.
Biden has been promising to get 100 million shots to Americans within his first 100 days in office, and doubled down on that commitment in a Friday speech. But vaccine demand far exceeds supply and distribution capacity right now — just over 30 million vaccines have been sent out nationwide, but just over 10 million Americans have received them. All vaccines are coming right off the manufacturing line as the federal government reportedly decided to deplete its stockpile. Biden called the distribution a "dismal failure so far" on Friday, and outlined five ways he planned to change its course.
If necessary, Biden said he'd invoke the Defense Production Act to ramp up vaccine production, and then would increase the federal government's involvement in distribution efforts. Biden also called on states to the lower vaccine eligibility age to 65, and increase the number of public health workers involved in vaccine distribution. And to back up his promise that "equity is central to our COVID response," especially due to the "disproportionate impact this virus has had on Black, Latino and Native American people," Biden promised a national public education campaign to build trust in the vaccine. These plans build upon Biden's proposed stimulus package, which would put $160 billion toward a national vaccine program.
None of these plans mean "everyone in these groups will get vaccinated immediately, because supply is not where it needs to be," Biden clarified. But as for accusations that his plans are just too ambitious, Biden said Friday that "this is the time to make big goals," as "the health of the nation is literally at stake."