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Biden celebrates vaccine approval but warns 'current improvement could reverse'

Biden celebrates vaccine approval but warns 'current improvement could reverse'
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President Joe BidenJoe BidenObama, Clinton reflect on Mondale's legacy Biden, Harris commend Mondale in paving the way for female VP Mondale in last message to staff: 'Joe in the White House certainly helps' MORE the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) decision to authorize Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine for emergency use Saturday, but warned the fight against COVID-19 is "far from over."

Earlier in the evening Saturday, the FDA cleared the company's coronavirus vaccine just one day after an agency advisory panel voted 22-0 to recommend authorization Friday, making it the third candidate authorized for use.

Johnson & Johnson's vaccine requires one shot, while Pfizer and Modern's vaccines require a two-shot regimen. 

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In a statement released by the White House, Biden lauded the agency's decision, calling it an "an encouraging development in our efforts to bring an end to the crisis."

"We know that the more people get vaccinated, the faster we will overcome the virus, get back to our friends and loved ones, and get our economy back on track," he added. 

However, Biden warned that "though we celebrate today's news," that Americans should still remain vigilant and continue to partake in social distancing, hand washing and using face masks. 

"There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we cannot let our guard down now," Biden added.

"As I have said many times, things are still likely to get worse again as new variants spread, and the current improvement could reverse. My Administration will not make the mistake of taking this threat lightly, or just assuming the best: that’s why we need the American Rescue Plan to keep this fight going in the months ahead." 

The warning from Biden comes as new, more transmissible variants of the coronavirus, including two discovered overseas in the United Kingdom and South Africa, have spread in the United States.

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Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have shown reduced effectiveness against the South African variant, according to The Washington Post. And pharmaceutical companies have already signaled the potential need to make booster shots for more variants that could occur. 

The White House will reportedly begin shipping out about 4 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine to states, territories, federal agencies and pharmacies now that the vaccine has been cleared by the FDA. As soon as the Center for Disease (CDC) control gives its approval, the actual vaccinations can be administered into arms.

According to the CDC, 72.8 million coronavirus vaccines have been administered thus far in the U.S.

Overall, the U.S. has seen a major reprieve in coronavirus cases since the surge of the virus around the early winter and holidays. However, cases have appeared to plateau just above high summer levels, according to data compiled by The New York Times.

Over 500,000 people have died since the beginning of the pandemic in the United States, and over 28.5 million people have been infected with the disease.