After surpassing his original goal of having 100 million Americans vaccinated by his 100th day in office — which doesn’t arrive until late April — President Joe Biden upped the ante to 200 million by then. The president made this announcement during his first press conference, held today.
The new target comes as some states have begun to ease or remove coronavirus restriction even as the more transmissible and deadlier British 1.1.7 variant is spreading in parts of the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 7,501 cases of the British variant nationwide. Florida (1,042) and Michigan (986) were the leading states.
The available vaccines are effective against the British variant. But the major uptick in the infection rates is concerning. “If you look at the increased infectivity of this variant … it is remarkable what we’re seeing in terms of transmission among kids and kids to adults,” Michael Osterholm, PhD, an epidemiologist and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, told Becker’s Hospital Review.
To date 87.3 million Americans (23.3%) have received one vaccine dose while 46.4 million (14.3%) are fully vaccinated. Experts estimate that herd immunity – when enough people are vaccinated to stop the virus’ spread – is somewhere between 80% and 90%.
Robert Calandra is an award-winning journalist and book author who has written extensively about health and medicine. His work has appeared in national and regional magazines and newspapers.