At the first town hall of his presidency, Joe Biden said Tuesday that the United States would have “over 600 million doses” of vaccines for COVID-19 available by the end of July.
Hosted by CNN's Anderson Cooper in Milwaukee, Biden's first question came from the network anchor, who asked when every American would be able to receive a vaccine for the disease that has so far killed more than 487,000 people in the U.S.
“By the end of July of this year,” Biden said resolutely. “When we came into office there was only 50 million doses available. By the end of July, we’ll have over 600 million doses, enough to vaccinate every single American.”
Cooper pressed Biden on whether he meant that the vaccine would be available or whether the shots would have been administered by that time.
“They'll be available,” Biden responded. “Look, what we did, we got into office and found out that the supply, there was no backlog, I mean there was nothing in the refrigerator, figuratively and literally speaking, and there were 10 million doses that were available. We’ve upped that in the first three weeks that we were in office to significantly more than that.”
Biden said he put pressure on vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna to ramp up production to deliver 600 million doses.
“We got them to move up the time because we used the National Defense Act to help the manufacturing piece of it to get more equipment and so on,” Biden continued.
Biden added that the bulk of the 600 million people who want to get vaccinated will be able to do so “in the meantime” rather than have to wait until the end of July.
“What’s going to happen is it’s going to continue to increase as we move along and we’ll have reached 400 million by the end of May and 600 million by the end of July,” Biden said.
As of Tuesday, the United States had vaccinated 39.9 million people, or 12 percent of the population. Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the phased rollout of vaccines for the elderly and people with preexisting health conditions would come to a conclusion in April, when he foresaw what he called the beginning of a new phase.
“If you look at the projection, I would imagine by the time we get to April, that will be what I would call, for [lack] of better wording, ‘open season,’” Fauci told NBC’s “Today” show. “Namely, virtually anybody and everybody in any category could start to get vaccinated.”
The rush to distribute vaccines comes at a precarious moment. COVID-19 continues to mutate, with variants from the U.K. and South Africa now actively circulating in the U.S. While both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been found effective against the variants detected so far, the risk is that further mutation could render them ineffective.
“There is no evidence that they’re not helpful,” Biden said of the two vaccines approved in the U.S. “So if you can get a vaccination, get it whenever you can get it.”
Read more from Yahoo News: