US officially passes 100M vaccine shots since Jan. 20; Biden eyes new goal

Coronavirus

President Joe Biden speaks about COVID-19 vaccinations, from the East Room of the White House, Thursday, March 18, 2021, in Washington, as Vice President Kamala Harris listens. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The Biden administration Friday officially surpassed its goal of injecting 100 million vaccine doses in his first 100 days, more than a month before his target date of his 100th day in office, as the president prepared to set his sights higher in the nationwide vaccination effort.

The nation is now administering about 2.5 million shots per day. Biden, who promised to set a new goal for vaccinations next week, teased the possibility of setting a 200 million dose goal by his 100th day in office.

“We may be able to double it,” he told reporters before leaving the White House for Atlanta. His comments come as the U.S. is on pace to have enough of the three currently authorized vaccines to cover the entire adult population just 10 weeks from now.

As the pace of U.S. vaccinations and supply improves, the White House said the nation is now in a position to help supply neighbors Canada and Mexico with millions of vaccine shots.

The Biden administration on Thursday revealed the outlines of a plan to “loan” a limited number of vaccines to Canada and Mexico as the president announced the U.S. was on the cusp of meeting his 100-day injection goal “way ahead” of schedule.

Coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said Friday that 2.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine would go to Mexico and 1.5 million would be sent to Canada. He emphasized that because the AstraZeneca shot is not yet authorized in the U.S., “This loan will not reduce the supply of vaccine to Americans.”

“Our first priority remains vaccinating the U.S. population,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday. But she added that “ensuring our neighbors can contain the virus is a mission-critical step, is mission critical to ending the pandemic.”

From his first days in office, Biden has set clear metrics for U.S. success, whether they be vaccinations or school reopenings, as part of an apparent strategy of underpromising, then overdelivering. Aides believe that exceeding his goals breeds trust in government.

The 100 million-dose goal was first announced on Dec. 8, days before the U.S. had even one authorized vaccine for COVID-19, let alone the three that have now received emergency authorization. Still, it was generally seen within reach, if optimistic.

By the time Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20, the U.S. had already administered 20 million shots at a rate of about 1 million per day, bringing complaints at the time that Biden’s goal was not ambitious enough. He later revised it upward to 150 million doses in his first 100 days.

Now, the vaccination pace is expected to dramatically rise later this month in conjunction with an expected increase in supply of the vaccines — putting a 200 million dose goal well within reach.

The president has moved to speed up deliveries of vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, as well as to expand the number of places to get shots and people who can administer them, with a focus on increasing the nation’s capacity to inject doses as supply constraints lift.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reporting by Zeke Miller.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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