Getting 100 million shots into Americans' arms in his first 100 days is only the beginning of his coronavirus plan, President-elect Joe Biden declared Friday. Lasting impact, he said, will come from uniting the nation in a new effort grounded in science and fueled by billions in federal money for vaccination, testing and outbreak sleuths.
“You have my word: We will manage the hell out of this operation,” Biden said. But he also underscored a need for Congress to approve more money and for people to keep following basic precautions, such as wearing masks, avoiding gatherings and frequently washing their hands.
“This is not a political issue," Biden said. “This is about saving lives. I know it’s become a partisan issue, but what a stupid, stupid thing to happen.”
On Friday, Biden pledged to maximize the available supply of vaccines and materials needed to administer them, using a Cold War-era law called the Defense Production Act to direct private manufacturing.
Governors bitterly accused the Trump administration Friday of deceiving the states about the amount of COVID-19 vaccine they can expect to receive as they ramp up vaccinations for senior citizens and others. But the government attributed the anger to confusion and misguided expectations on the part of the states.
Meanwhile, the race between the vaccine and the virus may be about to heat up: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the new, more infectious variant first seen in Britain will probably become the dominant version in the U.S. by March.
The CDC said the variant is about 50% more contagious than the virus that is causing the bulk of cases in this country.
In other developments:
- The global death toll from COVID-19 topped 2 million, crossing the threshold amid a vaccine rollout so immense but so uneven that in some countries there is real hope of vanquishing the outbreak, while in other, less-developed parts of the world, it seems a far-off dream.
- The World Health Organization's emergencies chief said Friday that the impact of new variants of COVID-19 in places like Britain, South Africa and Brazil remains to be seen, citing human behavior for some recent rises in infection counts.
- U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer has confirmed it will temporarily reduce deliveries to Europe of its COVID-19 vaccine while it upgrades production capacity to 2 billion vaccine doses per year.
- The European Union is looking at a common vaccine certificate to help get travelers to their vacation destinations and prevent tourism from suffering another disastrous year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Lebanon’s parliament has approved a draft law allowing imports of coronavirus vaccines as the tiny nation hit a new record in case numbers and more hospitals reported they were at full capacity.
- Couples go on dates, families dine out at restaurants, shoppers flock to stores. Face masks aside, people are going about their daily life pretty much as normal in the Chinese city that was first hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.