MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin/WASHINGTON (AFP, BLOOMBERG) - United States President Joe Biden said Tuesday (Feb 16) that all Americans will have access to Covid-19 vaccines before August.
He also said that Moderna and Pfizer agreed to sell more doses of their coronavirus vaccine to the US faster than planned after he invoked federal law that could force their production.
Mr Biden has previously predicted that vaccines might be available to all by spring, but the White House has recently toned down its optimism, citing difficulties both with the availability of vaccines and the ability to deliver them.
Asked when all Americans would be vaccinated, Mr Biden told a CNN town hall meeting with members of the public: "By the end of July this year."
"By the end of July, we'll have 600 million doses, enough to vaccinate every American," he said.
Mr Biden also said that he wanted a faster return of children to schools and that he backs vaccinations for teachers. The authorities should "move them up in the hierarchy".
Asked at the town hall session when life would get back to normal, Mr Biden said "by next Christmas, we'll be in a very different circumstance".
"A year from now, I think that there'll be significantly fewer people that have to be socially distanced, have to wear a mask," Mr Biden said, adding that he could not be sure.
The government announced last week that the two companies would deliver 300 million doses of each of their vaccines to the US by the end of July, enough to inoculate all American adults.
"We got them to move up time because we used the National Defence Act to be able to help the manufacturing piece of it, to get more equipment," Mr Biden said at the CNN town hall event in Milwaukee on Tuesday night. He appeared to be referring to the Defence Production Act, a law that allows the government to nationalise commercial production in emergencies.
The White House announced earlier Tuesday that vaccine shipments to states would rise next week to 13.5 million, from 11 million, while shipments going to pharmacies would double to two million next week.
However, White House officials warned governors during a call on Tuesday that inclement weather could slow deliveries over the next few days.