President Biden vowed Tuesday to ramp up states’ allocations of the coronavirus vaccine by about 15 percent next week — and revealed that the federal government has standing orders for another 200 million doses.
The move, which will increase the weekly allotment to states from 8.6 million doses to at least 10 million, came as local leaders have repeatedly implored the White House for increased access to the life-saving shots.
“That’s gonna allow millions of more Americans to get vaccinated sooner than previously anticipated,” said Biden during a White House press briefing of the increase.
Biden unveiled a three-pronged plan to step up vaccination efforts, starting with the increase in the weekly allotments to states, Native American tribes and US territories effective next week.
Additionally, he vowed that state and local governments would have a three-week forecast on any changes to the allocation figures, answering calls from leaders who have said that they found it difficult to plan more than a week ahead due to a lack of information.
“From this week forward, God willing, we’ll ensure that states, tribes and territories will now always have a reliable three-week forecast [on] the supply they’re gonna get,” he said. “This is going to help make sure governors, mayors and local leaders have greater certainty around supply so they can carry out their plans to vaccinate as many people as possible.”
Biden went on to insist that his pledge of 100 million shots administered during his first 100 days in office “is not the endpoint; it’s just the start.”
His administration is set to purchase another 100 million doses each from vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna.
Once the deal is finalized, those 200 million doses are expected to be delivered over the summer, Biden said.
“This will be one of the most difficult operational challenges we’ve ever undertaken as a nation,” said Biden . “This is a wartime undertaking. It’s not hyperbole.”
The promise of help came as New York, along with several other states, has been forced to postpone scheduled inoculations and shutter large-scale distribution centers with supplies drying up.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have each beseeched the Biden administration to up New York’s allocation to keep up with both the state’s demand and capacity to administer the shots.
Cuomo, who learned of the plan during a conference call held by the presidnent’s coronavirus team with governors across the nation, said that the additional vaccines were a step in the right direction — but he still wants more.
“It’s not enough,” Cuomo told MSNBC of the promised increase in vaccines.
Still, he praised the ramp-up as progress, and was particularly grateful for the three-week forecast window.
“Even more importantly, we can count on that allocation for the next three weeks,” he said. “We’ve been going week-to-week, and you really can’t plan and schedule when you don’t know what you’re going to get next week.”
Even with the vaccination effort ramping up, Biden said that the shots are the long-term weapon, with masks and common sense being Americans’ best protection in the short-term.
“The brutal truth is, it’s gonna take months before we get the majority of Americans vaccinated,” he said. “In the next few months, masks, not vaccines, are the best defense against COVID-19.”
Biden went on to offer a blunt view of the remaining fight against the contagion.
“We didn’t get into this mess overnight. It’s going to take months for us to turn things around,” he said. “But let me be equally clear: We’re going to get through this. We will defeat this pandemic.
“And, to a nation waiting for action, let me be clearest on this point: Help is on the way.”