Speed Reads

Solving COVID

Biden's million-vaccinations-a-day plan won't contain COVID-19 until 2022, immunologists warn

"C'mon, give me a break, man," President Biden told a reporter Thursday, when asked if his goal of getting 100 million Americans vaccinated in his first 100 days is too modest. "It's a good start, 100 million." Biden was right that when he "first made this pledge, it was an ambitious goal," Politico's Renuka Rayasam writes. "But now it's only a modest bump from the pace of vaccinations that he inherited," and experts agree it won't cut it anymore.

"At a pace of 1 million doses a day, the virus wouldn't be contained until sometime in 2022," Politico reports. Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert at the Baylor College of Medicine, said the U.S. needs to vaccinate 2-3 million people a day to quash the pandemic by September, and the sooner the better, given the rise of new, more contagious variants. "We've blown every other opportunity," Hotez said. "This is all we have left."

"I love that he set a goal, but a million doses a day?" Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told The New York Times. "I think we can do better," and actually "we are going to have to if we really want to get on top of this virus by, say, summer."

Currently, U.S. vaccination efforts are constrained by supply shortages and inefficient distribution of the two approved vaccines, from Modern and Pfizer/BioNTech. "States are expected to run out of doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine within days," Politico says. But both companies are ramping up production, and Johnson & Johnson's one-dose vaccine is expected to hit the shelves by the end of February, so there should be amply supply to significantly exceed Biden's current goal by April.

In the meantime, Biden's administration should focus "on fixing the hodgepodge of state and local vaccination centers that has proved incapable of managing even the current flow of vaccines," the Times reports, citing experts. Biden has requested $20 billion to vastly expand vaccination centers, and he wants to hire 100,000 health care workers to administer the vaccines. If he can do that, former FDA director Dr. Mark McClellan tells the Times, it should "push the number beyond a million doses a day and probably significantly beyond."