Biden’s visit will be just his second trip away from the East Coast since taking office last month, following a Tuesday appearance in Milwaukee, Wis., at a CNN town hall. Last week, he toured the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, getting a first-hand look at federal research on the coronavirus.
Biden has regularly touted his administration’s progress accelerating vaccinations, and has encouraged any American with the opportunity to take a shot. “If you’re eligible, if it’s available, get the vaccine. Get the vaccine,” he said during the Tuesday town hall.
The U.S. has given about 1.67 million shots per day over the past week, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker, up from an average of roughly 900,000 per day in the week before Biden took office. Supply is increasing as Pfizer and Moderna Inc., the other company whose vaccine was granted emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, ramp up their production, as well as efforts led in part by the Biden administration to increase the number of people able to administer vaccines.
Since taking office, Biden has ordered an additional 100 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, bringing the total to 300 million, which is enough for 150 million people. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines each require two doses. The president said Tuesday that Pfizer agreed to speed up shipments after the president invoked the Defense Production Act, which enables the government to nationalize manufacturing in emergencies.
Unlike Moderna, Pfizer declined full participation in the government’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine-development program under former President Donald Trump. Biden has since scrapped that name.
Before Friday’s virtual meeting of the leaders of the Group of Seven nations, White House officials on Thursday said the U.S. would immediately commit $2 billion to the effort known as Covax, which aims to help lower-income countries with vaccines. Biden will pledge an additional $2 billion through 2021 and 2022 on condition that other nations fulfill their commitments.
A third vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson, would require only one shot but the administration said Wednesday that it sees its distribution starting out slowly once it’s authorized by the FDA, which will likely happen within a few days of a Feb. 26 meeting to consider the company’s application and clinical data.
If the vaccine is authorized, the administration’s contract would be for 100 million doses by the end of June. White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said Wednesday that those deliveries would begin with just a few million doses and most distribution would be “back-end loaded.”
Biden’s most recent visit to Michigan was during the final stretch of his campaign, on Oct. 31, when he and former President Barack Obama made joint appearances at rallies in Flint and Detroit. He won the state by more than 154,000 votes, which amounted to a 50.6 percent to 47.8 percent victory over Trump. Trump’s narrow 2016 win in Michigan, with a 0.23 percent margin over challenger Hillary Clinton, was the first Republican presidential victory in the state since that of George H.W. Bush in 1988.
While recent state races have also been close, Democrats hold the governorship as well as both Michigan Senate seats. Biden seriously considered Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who’s been in office since 2019, to be his running mate.
During his first visit to the state after a group of militia members were arrested for allegedly plotting to kidnap Whitmer, Biden said “there’s not a better governor in the United States of America” than her.
— With assistance from Josh Wingrove.
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