President Biden on Thursday pledged a “full-blown war effort” to combat the coronavirus pandemic and signed a series of presidential decrees and guidelines to address the worst public health crisis in a century, including new requirements for masks on interstate aircraft. Quarantine trains and buses, as well as international travelers, upon arrival in the United States.
“History will measure whether we are up to the task,” said Biden during an appearance in the State Dining Room of the White House with Vice President Kamala Harris and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, his chief Covid-19 medical advisor at his side.
With thousands of Americans dying from Covid-19 each day, a national death toll of more than 400,000, and a new, contagious variant of the virus that is spreading rapidly, the pandemic represents the most pressing challenge of Mr. Biden’s early days in office How he deals with it will set the tone, as the Americans see his government in the future, as Mr Biden himself admitted.
In a 200-page document titled “National Strategy for Covid-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness,” released Thursday, the new administration outlines the kind of centralized federal response that Democrats have long called for and which President Donald J. Trump has rejected.
Despite his repeated calls for unity, the new president shot his predecessor, saying, “Over the past year we could not rely on the federal government to act with the urgency, focus and coordination we needed, and we have seen the tragic cost this failure. “
But the Biden plan is overly optimistic in some ways and not ambitious enough in other ways, some experts say. It is not clear how he will enforce the quarantine requirement. And his promise to inject 100 million vaccines in his first hundred days is low, as twice as many doses should be available in those 100 days.
Mr Biden was reluctant to ask a reporter when asked if the target should be a higher number. “When I announced it, you all said it wasn’t possible,” said Mr. Biden. “Come on, give me a break, man.”
With the currently approved coronavirus vaccines requiring two doses, but some Americans have already received their first shots, Mr Biden’s pledge should cover 65 to 70 million Americans, said Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration under Mr Trump.
“I think we can achieve that goal, and probably move higher, by focusing on how many people are vaccinated for the first time each day,” said Dr. Gottlieb. With vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna already granted emergency approval and a third from Johnson & Johnson expected to be approved soon, he said, “We can definitely reach a lot more patients.”
The problem lies beyond the 100-day mark. Federal health officials and senior executives agree that a lack of manufacturing capacity will make it impossible to increase the immediate supply of vaccines until April at the earliest.
The Biden Administration
“The brutal truth is that it will be months before we can vaccinate the majority of Americans,” said Biden.
For Mr Biden, it makes political sense to lower expectations, and the new president doesn’t have a big honeymoon on Capitol Hill. House No. 2 Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana said in a statement: “The comments the White House coronavirus Tsar made on vaccine delivery and distribution are old Washington spin.” He added, “The fact is that the Biden government has inherited contracts for 300 million doses of vaccines for two approved vaccines and two in end-stage clinical trials.”
However, the Biden team was quick to pinpoint what it sees as a mistake by the Trump administration.
“What we are inheriting is so much worse than we could have imagined,” said Jeff Zients, the White House’s new Covid-19 response coordinator, adding, “The cooperation or lack of cooperation from the Trump administration has been an obstacle . We don’t have the visibility we’d hope for offer and allotment. “
In a portrayal of his often-declared promise to put federal health professionals first. Mr. Biden was met in the state dining room by Dr. Fauci and Mr. Zients accompanied. Four other officials attended via video: Xavier Becerra, the candidate for the Ministry of Health; Vivek Murthy, the candidate for general surgeon, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a Racial Equality Health Advisor.
Efforts to untangle and speed up the distribution of vaccines – perhaps the most pressing challenge facing the Biden government, which is also the most promising way forward – will be a desperate race against time as states across the country have warned that they could run out of vaccines doses this weekend.
Although Mr Biden has stated that his administration would release more doses as they become available and keep fewer in reserve, he said last week that he would not change the recommended timing for second doses: 21 days after the first dose for Pfizer’s vaccine and 28 days for Moderna.
The government is asking Congress for $ 1.9 trillion for pandemic aid, and White House officials said they would need a large portion of that money to carry out their Covid-19 plan.