Biden Says U.S. Covid Immunity Unlikely Before End of Summer
President Joe Biden said it’s unlikely the U.S. will reach herd immunity for the coronavirus before the end of the summer due to a shortfall in vaccine availability.
“The idea that this can be done and we can get to herd immunity much before the end of this summer is very difficult,” Biden said in an interview with CBS News that aired on Sunday during Super Bowl pre-game coverage.
Biden also said the Centers for Disease Control would issue guidance soon on how to reopen classrooms safely, a key early goal of his administration that’s part of getting the economy back on track.
Herd immunity means enough people become resistant to the disease that its spread becomes unlikely. That provides protection to the entire community, including people who aren’t individually immune, according to Harvard University. It is typically achieved through vaccination.
In the U.S., logistical delays and vaccine shortages have meant only a small fraction of the population has received shots since two different vaccines became available in December.
“Look, it was one thing if we had enough vaccine, which we don’t. So we’re pushing as hard as we can to get more vaccine manufactured,” he said.
So far, 40.5 million doses have been administered in the U.S., according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.
Biden also said his administration may take the National Football League up on an offer to make its stadiums available as mass vaccination sites. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made the offer in a letter last week.
“I tell my team they’re available and I believe we’ll use them,” Biden said in the interview, which was taped at the White House on Friday.
Biden blamed the Trump administration for leaving the U.S. in a “more dire” situation than expected with vaccine supplies.
“We thought they had indicated there was a lot more vaccine available,” he said. “And that didn’t turn out to be the case. So that’s why we’ve ramped up every way we can.”
Earlier, Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease specialist, said on NBC that the U.S. “could have contracted a little bit more aggressively with the companies to get more doses” at the outset.
Fauci predicted better availability for the shots starting this month.
Biden said he expects guidance within days about returning to classrooms, adding that “it’s time for schools to reopen safely.”
“Our CDC commissioner is going to be coming out with science-based judgment, I think as early as Wednesday, as to lay out what the minimum requirements are,” he said.
Teachers’ unions have raised objections to reopening schools for in-person learning in some localities, citing high community transmission and a lack of sufficient precautions taken to prevent spread in classrooms.
“You have to have fewer people in the classroom. You have to have ventilation systems that have been reworked,” Biden said.
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