White House says Biden didn’t set new goal on vaccines
The White House on Tuesday clarified that President Biden was being optimistic when he said a day earlier that he hoped the country could vaccinate 1.5 million people per day in the coming weeks, and that he was not setting a concrete goal.
“The president didn’t actually say ‘the new goal is,’ the president said I hope we can do even more than that. And that is certainly of course his hope,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a daily briefing.
“He is continuing to push our team to get as many Americans vaccinated as quickly as possible. That’s why we set the bold goal of 100 million shots in the arms of Americans in 100 days to begin with.”
The Biden administration’s stated goal is to vaccinate 100 million Americans in its first 100 days in office. That timetable has drawn scrutiny from reporters and experts who question if it’s ambitious enough, given the country was already nearly hitting that mark when Biden took office.
Biden on Monday told reporters he was hopeful that the U.S. will be in a position in the “next three weeks” to be hitting 1 million vaccinations per day or more before signaling he hoped to reach the 1.5 million threshold.
“I think, with the grace of God, and the goodwill of the neighbor, and the creek not rising, as the old saying goes, I think we may be able to get that to … 1.5 million a day, rather than 1 million a day,” Biden said. “But we have to meet that goal of a million a day.”
Biden also said he thinks any American who wants a COVID-19 vaccine should be able to get one by the spring, and that the country could be approaching herd immunity by summer.
Psaki was pushed repeatedly on Tuesday about the lack of concrete information on how much vaccine is in the national stockpile and how the administration can confidently project timelines for herd immunity without that data.
The press secretary noted the unprecedented circumstances of the rapid vaccination campaign, and indicated Biden would address vaccine production and distribution further during his remarks Tuesday.
“It was a goal that was set with contingencies we need to plan for in mind, and he is going to continue to push the team to meet that goal and go beyond it,” Psaki said of the 1 million shots per day goal.