Seven days into his presidency, Joe Biden announced that he is taking new steps to speed vaccines to Americans.
The president said he would increase the supply of vaccines to states from 8.6 million doses to 10 million doses per week, a 16% increase, for at least the next 3 weeks.
He said he was working to give states more advanced notice of their allotments so they could better plan their campaigns. He also said doses would be doled out based on population.
“We will both increase the supply and give our state and local partners more certainty about when doses will arrive,” he said Tuesday.
Finally, Mr. Biden announced that the United States would “soon be able to confirm” the purchase of 200 million more doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines – 100 million of each – to effectively double the nation’s supply by “early summer.” That would increase the nation’s supply enough to fully vaccinate 300 million Americans by fall.
Mr. Biden said he was also working to shift the focus to getting more doses to economically disadvantaged communities and rural areas, which have fallen further behind as the vaccine rollout has faltered.
Even with these steps, Mr. Biden stressed that it would take months for vaccines to curb infections and deaths. He said, for the time being, masks, not vaccines, are the best way to save lives.
“The brutal truth is its going to take months before we get the majority of Americans vaccinated. Months,” he said, adding that wearing masks until at least April could save to save 50,000 lives.
“Let me be clear,” Mr. Biden said, “Things are going to get worse before they get better.
“We didn’t get into this mess overnight. It’s going to take months for us to turn things around. But let me be equally clear we’re going to get through this. We will defeat this pandemic,” he said.
A version of this article first appeared on WebMD.com.