WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US government is buying an additional 200 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine and will have enough to inoculate 300 million Americans - virtually the entire US population - by the end of summer or early fall, President Joe Biden said Tuesday (Jan 26).
An additional 100 million doses of vaccine are being bought from Pfizer and an additional 100 million doses from Moderna, the two companies whose vaccines have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, Mr Biden told reporters at the White House.
"Not in hand yet, but ordered," he said. "We expect these additional 200 million doses to be delivered this summer."
The latest purchase would take the total number of Covid-19 doses ordered by the government to 600 million, he said.
"This is enough vaccine to fully vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of the summer, beginning of the fall," the president said.
Mr Biden has pledged to provide 100 million Covid vaccine shots in his first 100 days in office and he said the administration was increasing its overall weekly vaccine supply to states and territories.
It is increasing the supply from 8.6 million doses a week to a minimum of 10 million doses.
"This is going to allow millions of more Americans to get vaccinated sooner than previously anticipated," he said.
Mr Biden said vaccinating the entire US population was a daunting challenge and the vaccine programme inherited from the Trump administration "was in worse shape than we anticipated or expected."
Ending the coronavirus pandemic would require a "war-time effort," he said.
"More than 400,000 Americans have already died," he said. "This is a war-time undertaking. It's not hyperbole."
Mr Biden also said "things are going to continue to get worse before they get better."
"The death toll, experts tell us, is likely to top 500,000 by the end of next month, this February. And cases will continue to mount," he added.
"We didn't get into this mess overnight. It's going to take months for us to turn things around. But let me be equally clear. We're going to get through this. We will defeat this pandemic."