The coronavirus will have killed half a million people in the United States by the end of next month, Joe Biden predicted Thursday, warning that his administration would not be able to significantly speed up the pace of vaccinations.
The president, who ran for office on the promise to revise the US response to the pandemic, told reporters: “The death toll is likely to reach 500,000 by next month, cases will continue to rise.”
“We didn’t get into this mess overnight. It’s going to take us months to change things, ”Biden added during a White House briefing on his first full day as president.
Mr Biden also lowered expectations of a drastic change in the speed of the US vaccination campaign, warning that “the stark truth is that it will be months before we can get the majority of Americans vaccinated.”
He reaffirmed his commitment to launch “an aggressive, safe and effective vaccination campaign” so that 100 million vaccines are administered in his first 100 days in office.
However, that would not represent a significant increase in the current pace of vaccinations: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over the past week, an average of 912,497 doses have been administered per day.
Asked by a reporter if the goal was ambitious enough, Mr Biden replied, “When I announced it, you all said it wasn’t possible. Come on, give me a break, man.
Mr Biden took office as the death rate continued to rise. Wednesday the US reported record 4,409 deaths of the virus, according to the Covid Tracking Project, which estimates the total number of deaths at 396,837.
The president’s grim assessment of the pandemic marks a marked departure from his predecessor Donald Trump, who repeatedly predicted that the United States was on the verge of defeating the virus only to get it even more out of control.
“The honest truth is that we are still in a dark winter of this pandemic,” Mr. Biden said. “It will get worse before it gets better. It will take several months to get to where we need to be. ”
Speaking later today, Anthony Fauci, one of the few presidential coronavirus advisers who remained in office during the change in administration, said Mr Biden’s vaccination plan involved “taking what is happening, but amplify it considerably “.
Dr Fauci also said the United States plans to change vaccines if new strains of Covid are found to be resistant. “There are alternative plans if we ever have to change the vaccine,” he says. “It is not a very expensive thing. We can do that, given the platforms we have. “
And he admitted he felt a sense of relief working under a new president, after being dismissed and publicly criticized by Mr. Trump under the previous administration. “Let’s let the science speak: it’s kind of a liberating feeling,” said Dr Fauci.
Meanwhile, the president said his administration would force anyone traveling to the United States to have tested negative for the coronavirus beforehand and to quarantine themselves on arrival, in a slight reinforcement of the regime. existing.
He added that he would make it mandatory to wear a mask on some forms of interstate travel.
Meanwhile, Mr. Biden pledged to invoke the Korean War Defense Production Act, which requires companies to manufacture certain items in short supply, including vaccine syringes, N95 masks, and materials for test kits.