WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - US President Joe Biden says he anticipates that coronavirus vaccines will be available to anyone in the nation by spring - an ambitious target that can only be met with sharp increases in the current pace of inoculations.
The US is currently administering about 1.2 million shots per day, data compiled by Bloomberg show, and Biden said Monday (Jan 25) he expects that will soon reach 1.5 million doses.
He said the administration has "commitments from some of the producers that they will in fact produce more vaccine," though didn't say which companies.
While increasing, the current pace threatens to stretch vaccinations into 2022, because the first two approved vaccines require two doses. Biden, asked when anyone who wants the shot will be able to get it, said he thinks that's possible by spring, while "increasing the access" through summer.
"It's going to be a logistical challenge that exceeds anything we have ever tried in this country, but I think we can do that," Biden said Monday, speaking to reporters after an announcement in a building adjacent to the White House.
"I feel confident that by summer we're going to be well on our way to heading toward herd immunity, and increasing the access for people" who aren't at the top of the list, Biden said.
"But I feel good about where we're going and I think we can get it done."
Biden said he's "optimistic" that there'll be enough vaccines, as well as enough people and supplies to administer them. He again encouraged Americans to wear masks to slow the outbreak.
"It's beginning to move but I'm confident that we will beat this," he said. "But we're still going to be talking about this in the summer. We will still going to be dealing with this issue in the early fall."
One of Biden's top coronavirus advisers said it would be the third or fourth quarter of the year by the time vaccine supply will catch up to demand.
"I think we're going to be into third or fourth quarter until we get to the point of everybody who wants to be vaccinated, vaccinated," David Kessler, one of the officials leading the Covid response for Biden, told SiriusXM's Doctor Radio Reports, hosted by Marc Siegel. "But this is full court press. If we can do better, we will."
The US recorded 133,000 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, one of the lowest totals in months as caseloads have fallen from record highs earlier this month. Death rates, however, are a lagging indicator and remain high, including 1,814 on Sunday and 420,000 overall so far in the US.
New strains threaten to spur new outbreaks. The White House announced earlier Monday that it was restricting travel from South Africa, where a new strain appears particularly concerning, and would require a negative test from any air traveller boarding a flight into the US from abroad.
Biden renewed his call for Congress to pass a new coronavirus aid package. "Time is of the essence," he said. "We can't afford to not invest now."