Biden receives vaccine as US pledges to ramp up distribution
Washington, D.C. – US President-elect Joe Biden received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in a televised event on Monday, as he encouraged the public to get their injections as soon as it was available to them, insisting the doses were safe and effective.
Biden is the latest public figure in the US to roll up their sleeve, as part of an outreach campaign aimed at swinging skeptical people towards getting inoculated, so as to ensure herd immunity and allow the country to return to normal life in 2021.
"I’m doing this to demonstrate that people should be prepared, when it’s available, to take the vaccine," Biden said. "I’m looking forward to the second shot," he said.
The Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine which Biden received requires a second dose, administered about three weeks after the first, to reach maximum efficacy. The vaccine has a 95% efficacy, according to the clinical trials.
Biden also gave a nod to the outgoing Trump administration for managing the vaccine production project. "The administration deserve some credit, getting this off the ground."
Experts predict the US could reach herd immunity the end of summer 2021
Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar predicted during a press conference earlier in the day that the US could reach herd immunity through the massive vaccine program by the end of the second quarter of 2021.
The news comes as shipments of a second vaccine, from pharmaceutical firm Moderna, arrived at medical centers around the country, after getting approval from regulators last week.
The Moderna vaccine will also need a booster shot to be most effective, but it involves simpler logistics than the Pfizer one, which must be kept at extremely cold temperatures.
Between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Azar expects 50 million people to have received at least a first dose by the end of next month, and 100 million people will have been inoculated by the close of February.
Additional vaccines by other companies are in various states of production and could be ready sometime early next year.
Yet the good news about the vaccines continues to be dampened by high daily rates of new infections in the US, which tops the world in confirmed cases.
Health officials continue to stress the need to physically distance, wear masks, and follow general hygiene rules.
More than 113,000 people are currently hospitalized in the country due to Covid-19 complications, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
More than 318,000 people have died in the US since the start of the pandemic, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Cover photo: imago images / ZUMA Wire