Monday, 25 January 2021

White House chief of staff Ron Klain says Biden's 100m COVID-19 vaccinations in his first 100 days is 'just the start' - after America surpassed its daily target with 1.06m doses on Saturday

 White House chief of staff said on Sunday that President Joe Biden's plan for 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in his first 100 days is 'ambitious', and Dr Anthony Fauci agreed that it's a 'reasonable' but 'challenging' goal. 

During an interview on NBC's Meet the Press, Ron Klain said Biden's goal is only his first and not his final one as it relates to getting doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to into the arms of Americans. 

'One-hundred million shots is a bold, ambitious goal, but we need to keep going after that. That is our first goal, it's not our final goal, it's not the endpoint, it's just a metric the American people can watch and measure how we are doing,' Klain said. 

So far, more than 22.4 million shots have been administered across the US. *Over the last week, daily doses averaged about 1.1 million per day.

Klain revealed in the interview that a plan for distributing the vaccine, particularly beyond nursing homes and hospitals, 'did not really exist when we came into the White House'.

White House chief of staff, Ron Klain (pictured), said President Joe Biden's plan for 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in his first 100 days is 'ambitious', but it's not the final goal

White House chief of staff, Ron Klain (pictured), said President Joe Biden's plan for 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in his first 100 days is 'ambitious', but it's not the final goal 

He also said that the Biden administration will be tackling three major needs: 'We need more vaccine, we need more vaccinators, we need more vaccination sites.'

'We are going to set up these federal vaccination centers to make sure that in states that don't have enough vaccination sites, we fill those gaps. We're going to work closely with the manufacturers to ramp up production.'

'We're going to use all the powers we have in the White House,' Klain added. 'We are going to work with Congress to get more funding to also accelerate this, so we can improve the rate at which we are vaccinating people.'

Meanwhile, Dr Fauci was also interviews on Sunday when he appeared on Face the Nation

During the interview, Fauci agreed that administering 100 million doses in the first 100 days is 'going to be a challenge'.


'I think it was a reasonable goal that was set, we always want to do better than the goal you set, but it is really a floor and not a ceiling,' he said. 

Fauci then broke that down a bit further, saying that the 100 million comes down to the people 'who will have gotten two doses and then some that are still on their first dose'.

'When you add them all up and you look at shots, it's 100 million shots in the arms of people within the first 100 days,' he added. 

Fauci continued: 'If you look forward with the challenges that we will be having, getting it out into the community that is not easily accessible, getting it to people that are not uniform in the sense of being health care providers or people in nursing home, I still think that challenge is really — it's going to be a floor, not a ceiling. It's not going to be easy to do that.'

'We've got to vaccinate as many people as we possibly can as quickly as we possibly can,' he said on Face the Nation.  

Meanwhile, Dr Fauci (pictured) agreed that administering 100 million doses in the first 100 days is 'going to be a challenge'. 'I think it was a reasonable goal that was set, we always want to do better than the goal you set, but it is really a floor and not a ceiling,' he said

Meanwhile, Dr Fauci (pictured) agreed that administering 100 million doses in the first 100 days is 'going to be a challenge'. 'I think it was a reasonable goal that was set, we always want to do better than the goal you set, but it is really a floor and not a ceiling,' he said

Their remarks came on the same day that the chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the agency is stepping up its efforts to track coronavirus mutations to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines and treatments stay ahead of new variants of the disease until collective immunity is achieved.

Dr Rochelle Walensky spoke about implications posed by the rapidly evolving virus during a Fox News Sunday interview as the number of Americans known to have been infected surpassed 25 million, with more than 418,000 dead, just over a year after the first US case of COVID-19 was documented.

Walensky, who took over as CDC director last Wednesday, the day Biden was sworn in, also said the greatest immediate culprit for sluggish vaccine distribution is a supply crunch worsened by inventory confusion inherited from the Trump administration.

'The fact that we don't know today, five days into this administration, and weeks into planning, how much vaccine we have just gives you a sense of the challenges we've been left with,' she told Fox News Sunday.

Biden's transition team was largely excluded from the government's vaccine rollout deliberations for weeks after his election as then-President Donald Trump refused to concede defeat and allow the incoming administration access to information needed to prepare to govern.

Walensky said she was confident the government would soon resolve supply questions, and go on to dramatically expand vaccine production and distribution by late March.

Fauci tells mayors COVID-19 'vaccine supply is steadily increasing'
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There have been more than 25 million cases of the virus reported in the US since the start of the pandemic last year

There have been more than 25 million cases of the virus reported in the US since the start of the pandemic last year 


Uncertainty over immediate supplies, however, will hinder efforts at the state and local levels to plan ahead for how many vaccination sites, personnel and appointments to set up in the meantime, exacerbating shortages in the short term, she said.

Vaccination has become ever more critical with the recent emergence of several coronavirus variants believed to be more transmissible, and in the case of one strain first detected in Britain, possibly more lethal.

'We are now scaling up both our surveillance of these and our study of these,' Walensky said, adding that the CDC was collaborating with the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and even the Pentagon.

The object, she said, is to monitor 'the impact of these variants on vaccines, as well as on our therapeutics,' as the virus continues to mutate while it spreads.

Until vaccines can provide 'herd' immunity in the population, mask-wearing and social distancing remain vital to 'decrease the amount of virus that is circulating, and therefore, decrease the amount of variants that are out there,' Walensky said.

Although British officials on Friday warned that the so-called UK variant of the coronavirus, already detected in at least 20 US states, was associated with a higher level of mortality, scientists have said existing vaccines still appeared to be effective against it.

They worry, however, that a more contagious South African variant may reduce the efficacy of current vaccines and shows resistance to three antibody therapeutics developed for treating COVID-19 patients. 

Similarities between the South African variant and another identified in Brazil suggest the Brazilian variety may likewise resist antibody treatment.

'We're in a race against these variants,' said Vivek Murthy, nominated by Biden to become the next U.S. surgeon general, on ABC's 'This Week' program on Sunday.

Fauci said in late December he was optimistic the US could achieve enough collective immunity to COVID to regain 'some semblance of normality' by the fall of 2021.

But Murthy said getting to herd immunity before a new school year begins in September was 'an ambitious goal'.

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