The United States is now administering more than 1.5 million vaccine doses per day, putting it ahead of pace to meet President Biden's goal of administering 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses within his first 100 days in office.
America's vaccine rollout runs ahead of Biden's announced schedule
When Biden took office in January, he announced a goal of administering more than 1.5 million Covid-19 vaccine doses per day and vowed to administer 100 million vaccine doses by his 100th day in office, which will be April 30.
At the time Biden was inaugurated, the United States already was vaccinating about 1 million people per day, so some public health experts criticized the Biden administration's goals as too modest.
Now, the country appears on pace to hit the 100 million dose mark a month ahead of schedule. CDC data, for example, shows the average number of daily vaccine doses administered now exceeds 2 million—up from about 1.3 million doses a month ago, the Times reports.
CDC data shows that, as of Thursday morning, 54 million Americans have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. According to the Times, those figures include only the vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, which require two doses for full effectiveness.
The recent milestones in America's vaccine rollout come as the administration has taken steps to accelerate vaccinations amid logistical challenges, The Hill reports. For instance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has recently helped launch and staff seven vaccination sites California, New York, and Texas, the Times reports.
The administration also brokered an agreement to allow Merck & Co. to manufacture Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) newly authorized, single-dose Covid-19 vaccine and intends to invoke the Defense Production Act to help J&J procure manufacturing and packaging supplies for its vaccine.
Will J&J's single-dose vaccine further accelerate America's vaccine rollout?
Some public health officials and experts believe J&J's single-dose vaccine will help further accelerate America's vaccine rollout.
In particular, public health officials say J&J's vaccine will allow them to recalibrate their distribution plans because it can be stored at normal refrigeration temperatures for three months, whereas the vaccines manufactured Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have stricter temperature control requirements. That will make it easier to distribute the J&J vaccine at convention centers, stadiums, and other nonmedical distribution sites, the Times reports.
"There are circumstances in which it is going to be a really good option or maybe the best option," said Matthew Daley, a senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Colorado's Institute for Health Research and a member of the CDC's independent vaccine advisory committee.
Joseph Kanter, the top medical official of Louisiana Department of Health, said he expects J&J's single-dose vaccine will allow his state to cut staffing and operations costs related to administering two-dose vaccines. "The J&J vaccine brings a lot to the table," Kanter said.
Meanwhile, other experts believe the vaccine will simply be more convenient for Americans and may help reduce vaccine hesitancy.
"There are a lot of folks who are like, 'I'm much more interested now that you tell me I only have to get a shot one time instead of two,'" Mandy Cohen, North Carolina's health secretary, said.
Further, some Americans may find J&J's vaccine more enticing because it has fewer side effect than Pfizer/BioNTech's and Moderna's vaccines.
Where America's coronavirus epidemic stands
Overall, data compiled by the Times shows that U.S. officials on Thursday reported about 67,415 new cases of the novel coronavirus. As of Friday morning, officials had reported about 28.8 million cases since the United States' epidemic began.
According to the Times, the United States' average daily number of newly reported coronavirus cases over the past week was 62,924—down by 14% compared with the average from two weeks ago.
However, the Times' data showed that, as of Friday morning, the rates of newly reported coronavirus cases were "staying high" in Washington, D.C., and 14 states that have reported a daily average of at least 15 newly reported cases per 100,000 people over the past week. Those states are Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, and Vermont.
In addition, the rate of newly reported coronavirus cases was "going up" as of Friday morning in Michigan and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which have had comparatively lower case rates, the Times reports.
According to the data, rates of newly reported coronavirus cases were "staying low" or declining from previously higher rates in the remaining U.S. states and territories.
Meanwhile, data from The Atlantic's COVID Tracking Project shows there were 44,172 Americans with Covid-19 hospitalized for treatment on Thursday, including 8,970 who were receiving care in an ICU and 2,973 who were on a ventilator.
Further, data from the Times shows that U.S. officials reported about 1,949 new deaths linked to the coronavirus on Thursday. As of Friday morning, officials had reported about 520,028 U.S. deaths linked to the virus since the country's epidemic began.
(Graham, New York Times, 3/4; Axios, 3/4; Williams, The Hill, 3/4; Weiland, New York Times, 3/4; New York Times, 3/5; "COVID Tracking Project," The Atlantic, accessed 3/5; LaFraniere/Weiland, New York Times, 1/21).