Biden’s federal boost to vaccine rollout is critical to speeding inoculations
(Reuters) – President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to boost the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, including by spending $20 billion to create mass vaccination centers, should help speed up putting shots into the arms of millions of Americans, experts and officials told Reuters.
The Biden administration on Thursday revealed a nearly $2 trillion proposal to address the economic harm from the COVID-19 pandemic that included $20 billion for vaccine distribution and $50 billion for testing. It builds on the $982 billion COVID relief bill passed in December, more than tripling the funding allocated to state and local governments for vaccine distribution.
“The vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure thus far,” Biden said in a prime-time address. “This will be one of the most challenging operational efforts we’ve ever undertaken as a nation. We’ll have to move heaven and earth to get more people vaccinated.”
More than a month into the United States’ vaccination campaign, around 11 million Americans have been vaccinated – far short of the Trump administration’s initial goal of 20 million people by the end of 2020. Federal officials largely left states to manage distribution, resulting in wide variations in vaccination rates even as daily deaths hit new records.
Experts said that rapidly setting up vaccination centers and getting more shots to communities will be crucial if Biden is to reach his target of 100 million shots in the first 100 days, a promise he repeated on Thursday.
More infectious variants of the coronavirus have been found in the United States, adding to the need for rapid distribution.