US President-elect Joe Biden on Friday announced that he would surge federal resources into making “thousands” of vaccine sites, while also deploying mobile clinics and expanding the public health workforce to accelerate the rollout of Covid-19 shots.
Biden has said he wants 100 million Americans to receive injections during his first 100 days in office, a drastic increase from the current pace, reports BBC.
“This is going to be one of the most challenging operational efforts ever undertaken by our country,” the 78-year-old Democrat said Friday from Wilmington, Delaware.
“But you have my word: we will manage the hell out of this operation.” The afternoon address came a day after he unveiled a $1.9 trillion stimulus package for the battered economy that included $20 billion for vaccines and $50 billion for testing.
As of Thursday morning, some 30 million doses had been sent to states with only 11.1 million injected into arms, according to official data, well behind the Trump administration’s target of 20 million in December.
Biden’s plan would drastically increase the role of the federal government in the distribution effort, mobilizing the Federal Emergency Management Administration and reimbursing states that deploy their National Guard.
Biden has also asked Congress to fund the expansion of the nation’s public health workforce to 100,000 personnel, nearly triple the current number.
The push comes as the incoming leader was seeking to wrest the focus from the impeachment of Donald Trump to the agenda for his first days in office.
More than 388,000 people in the United States have lost their lives to the virus, a figure that is likely to have crossed 400,000 by the time Biden is sworn into office on Wednesday.
The outlook is set to worsen as the B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus establishes itself in the US as the dominant strain in March, according to modeling by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
The agency said the strain, which first emerged in Britain and drove a near exponential rise in cases there, could further stretch hospitals and increase the percentage of people who need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.