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Americans Covid-19 Vaccine

Greece And United Kingdom In Talks To Begin Implementing Vaccine Passports For Travel 

Greece is currently in technical talks with the United Kingdom over allowing Britons carrying a vaccine passport entry into the nation. Concerns from the rest of the European Union over new strains and a slowing of vaccine rollouts, however, may delay those discussions. 

Haris Theoharis is Greece’s tourism minister who recently spoke with the media about how he hopes to work with Boris Johnson’s current roadmap for allowing UK residents to travel, however, it’s unclear whether or not Greece and Brussels will break from their current restrictions that would prevent this sort of travel from occurring. 

Non-essential travel into most European countries has been widely prohibited to curb the spread of Covid-19. Of the European Union’s 27-member states, all leaders agreed that these restrictions must remain in place for the time being. 

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Theoharis, however, recently confirmed that Anglo-Greek technical teams were working on how to create a system in which mass travel could resume properly if facilitated correctly. 

“We’ll try to dovetail with the plan that has been announced in the UK. May 17th has been a set date and we certainly want to be ready by then. The roadmap was a very, very good move by the UK government … planning is a prerequisite for the travel industry.”

The EU’s head of state and government are projected to discuss vaccination rollouts this week, however, they don’t believe that these discussions mean travel should resume anytime soon. The number one priority is getting all citizens vaccinated and bringing this pandemic to a hopeful end. Greece and a few other member states have been in talks to separate themselves from the EU’s current travel restrictions in order to stimulate their economies more. 

Theoharis claims that his government would be pushing for a more organized agreement regarding vaccine passports at the EU level to allow travel to resume. France and Germany have been very vocal over their hesitation to implement vaccination passports for travel mainly because not everyone is vaccinated, and there’s not enough information about how the virus can be transmitted among vaccinated and unvaccinated groups of people. 

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“All we are saying is that with this system we’d be instituting two lanes in airports as it were. The vaccination lane and the non-vaccination lane which would facilitate travel quite a bit. We have to move fast. It’s already been decided that this certificate will be created on a Pan-European basis even if it is just for health reasons,” he explained. 

Theoharis went on to explain that Greece “wants to finish what we started and finish it quickly and briskly and at the same time aim high for the travel and tourism industry. There are a number of misconceptions around the certificate, the first being that it would be discriminatory. It’s not, because it’s just an alternative to negative testing.”

“The idea that it breaches privacy laws is also wrong because, if you prefer, you can travel as if you are not vaccinated and always get tested. A certificate simply allows somebody to travel without needing to test all the time. In that sense it’s hassle- free and cost-efficient. And on the health front there is greater probability a vaccinated person has fewer chances of spreading the disease than someone who is negative at some point in time.”

It’s unclear when Greece would begin implementing these new travel policies, if at all, because as mentioned before, the number one priority among all EU government bodies is getting everyone vaccinated and ending the pandemic once and for all. 

Doctor Holding Coronavirus Vaccine Syringe

Vaccine Providers Pledge 240 Million Covid-19 Vaccine Doses By The End Of March 

Johnson & Johnson has joined Pfizer and Moderna in their commitment to the US to provide a total of 240 million vaccine doses by the end of March. The drug companies told a House subcommittee this week that they expect to deliver this amount of doses after Johnson & Johnson pledged to add 20 million additional doses to Pfizer and Moderna’s 220 million dose pledge should the company receive emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration this week. 

Dr. Richard Nettles is J&J’s vice president of medical affairs who spoke with the lawmakers regarding the company’s pledge should they receive the EUA as expected. 

“If the emergency use authorization is received as expected this week, we hope to contribute to ending this pandemic as soon as possible.”

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Nettles claims that the company is prepared to ship out 4 million doses immediately upon authorization of the vaccine. Executives from each of the vaccine makers testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations this past Tuesday. 

If AstraZeneca secures an FDA authorization as well it will become the fourth Covid-19 vaccine available in the US. Dr. Ruud Dobber, the executive vice president and president of AstraZeneca’s biopharmaceuticals business unit, said the company “will immediately release 30 million doses upon authorization of the vaccine and up to 50 million doses by the end of April.”

Pfizer initially planned to deliver up to 40 million doses of their vaccine by the end of 2020, however, they just reached that milestone last week. Moderna was close to reaching their goal of 20 million doses by the end of 2020 but fell short by just a week. Executives for the companies claimed that a lack of access to raw materials and manufacturing a product that has never been made before were the main issues in production. John Young, Pfizer’s chief business officer, recently spoke about this issue to the media. 

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“We did initially experience some problems with the initial ramp up of our vaccine. We particularly saw some rate-limiting steps for raw materials.” 

“We ultimately had never–when we were trying to make those estimates — manufactured at this scale, and so we had a lot to learn along the way. As we look back, could we have maybe started earlier in that process and lining up all of the critical raw materials sooner, would we have been able to get there a little bit faster instead of the first week of January, last week of December? It’s possible. Certainly hindsight, and that is 20-20 for us,” said Moderna’s president Dr. Stephen Hoge.

Moderna is currently seeking FDA approval for increasing the number of doses in each Covid-19 vaccine vial from 10 to 15. Hodge claims this would “accelerate delivery substantially and decrease the demand for some critical, high-demand raw materials. Obviously, any gains — for instance, filling more doses in a vial — we will take. We need to get more doses more quickly into peoples’ arms.”

Johnson & Johnson will be finding out if they receive an emergency use authorization this Friday.

Coronavirus Vaccine in Bottles

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Proven To Reduce Symptomatic Covid-19 In Real World

Researchers in Israel this week announced that Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine has appeared to reduce symptomatic coronavirus infections by more than 90% in the real world now that more and more populations are receiving their doses. 

The preliminary findings suggest that the vaccine itself has remained as successful as researchers initially proved in their vaccine trials. Within a clinical vaccine trial the conditions are greatly controlled to monitor the actual effectiveness of the shot, however, that monitoring already eliminates a slew of other risks that exist within the real world that could impact the vaccine’s efficacy. 

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Luckily, nothing of the sort has occurred, and the vaccine is still wildly successful. The Clalit Research Institute is a major part of Israel’s healthcare system, and they’re the ones who analyzed data on 1.2 million individuals; half of which received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The researchers wanted to compare patients who had received the vaccine and individuals with similar immune systems who hadn’t.

The researchers wanted to analyze the rate in which symptomatic Covid-19 was spreading with the release of this vaccine; meaning they looked at individuals who contracted the virus and actually felt sick. Symptomatic Covid-19 was proven to decrease by 94% among individuals who have received their two doses of the vaccine, according to a press release from Clalit. The rate of serious illness caused by the virus decreased by 92%. 

The research has yet to be published by the Institute because they’re still waiting for it to be peer-reviewed so that the results are as accurate as possible. However, the results are already consistent with the data that Pfizer initially released to prove their vaccine would be effective. 

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Pfizer’s initial data from their vaccine trial showed that their Covid-19 vaccine was 95% effective against symptomatic coronavirus. In the trial itself, participants were either given the actual vaccine or a placebo. They then observed how many people from each group got infected after the fact. 

Pfizer’s clinical study was considered to be the “golden standard in clinical research” according to the Institute due to the fact that it was a randomized and controlled trial. The studies from Israel are now observational, meaning researchers aren’t randomly picking individuals who got the vaccine or not already.

Observational studies can skew the data in this case, however, due to the fact that different individuals who choose to be vaccinated are likely going to take less or more steps towards protecting themselves from potential infection. 

While the observational aspect of this study may not be as effective as a controlled trial, the combination of these new results with the results that came from Pfizer and BioNTech themselves shows the world that the vaccine is just as effective as anticipated, and we should all continue to do our parts to protect each other and bring this pandemic to an end.

Moderna Covid Vaccine

US Just Officially Purchased 200 Million More Covid-19 Vaccines 

When President Joe Biden took office a few weeks ago he promised Americans that his administration would be purchasing another 200 million Covid-19 vaccine doses; 100 million from Pfizer and 100 million from Moderna. The purchase officially went through this week, marking a 50% increase in the nation’s total vaccine supply. 

The US has now ordered a total of 600 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from the two companies; which is enough to vaccinate 300 million Americans or nearly the whole adult population. The new supply is projected to be delivered by the end of July, so the current rate in which vaccines are being distributed will likely not change, however, the increase in supply will prevent the US from experiencing a shortage. 

Biden spoke at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland this week in which he claimed that the vaccination program he inherited from the previous Trump administration was “in much worse shape” than his team had predicted, basically forcing them to start from square one. 

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“My predecessor, to be very blunt about it, did not do his job in getting ready for the massive challenge of vaccinating Americans. He didn’t order enough vaccines, and he didn’t mobilize enough people to administer the shots.” 

Within his first three weeks in office, Biden and his administration managed to increase the weekly vaccine supply for states by 30%. Around 34.7 million American citizens have now received at least one of the two Covid-19 vaccine doses. “Millions more Americans will get vaccinated in February than the previous administration was on track to do,” Biden explained. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci recently spoke with the media and claimed that he expects the US to hit “open season” for vaccinations by April; meaning a majority of Americans will be able to receive their shots by that point regardless of age, occupation or preexisting medical conditions. 

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Both Pfizer and Moderna have vaccines that are more than 90% effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19. Both companies currently have the highest efficacy rates of any coronavirus shot being distributed around the world currently. Both of the shots rely on messenger RNA that sends coded messages to the body’s immune system to trigger a response that will rid the body of the virus should an individual become exposed. 

Dr. Johan Bester is the director of bioethics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, School of Medicine, who recently spoke with Business Insider about the amazing medical advancement that is a mRNA vaccine. 

“The new mRNA technology is the Rolls Royce of vaccines. These are the top of the line for all vaccines that we’ve seen come out within the last year.”

Public health experts are also optimistic that the rate in which Americans are being vaccinated will increase if the Food and Drug Administration authorizes the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine as well. The company asked US regulators to give its vaccine an emergency use authorization just last week, and the FDA is projected to discuss this request on February 26th. If approved, the vaccine could begin distribution a few days later.

Covid-19 Variants Causing Scientists To Rethink Vaccine Strategy

Top vaccine scientists throughout the world have made it known that current Covid-19 vaccine rollout programs need to be reexamined after variants of the virus are proving to be more resistant.

Woman Getting Vaccinated

Experts Warn Vaccinated Individuals Not To Let Their Guard Down

With Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and AstraZeneca all releasing effective Covid-19 vaccines, many are wondering what will come next as more and more people begin to receive their doses. As of right now, there is still no clear timeline as to when this pandemic will actually end and life can return to complete normalcy, so experts are warning vaccinated individuals not to let their guard down. 

The biggest debate has been over whether or not you still have to wear a mask once you’re vaccinated, and so far every expert has said that yes, you do. No vaccine is 100% effective in preventing the Covid-19 vaccine the same way an annual flu shot doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get the flu that year. 

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The best of the currently available vaccines offer up to 95% protection once you’re fully immunized, leaving a 5% chance that you can still get the virus, and after it’s claimed the lives of over 430,000+ Americans, why take the chance. To put it into perspective, birth control methods such as pills, patches, shots, etc. are between 91% and 96% effective in preventing pregnancy; which equates to about 9 out of every 100 women on contraception still getting pregnant, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.  

Everyone’s immune system is also different, meaning some will have a much stronger response to the vaccine than others. Dr. Peter Hotez is a professor and dean at the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, who recently spoke with the media about the importance of everyone receiving their second dose of the vaccine within a key time frame in order to guarantee a strong response. 

“In looking at the Phase 1, Phase 2 data, what I saw with a single dose is some people had high levels of virus-neutralizing antibodies, others were nonresponders. So the major reason for the second dose is to get everybody to respond. If you just get a single dose, you don’t really know where you stand, remember, it can take two to three weeks after you get the second shot before your immunity fully kicks in.”

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With the appearance of multiple different strains of the Covid-19 virus appearing as well, there’s no guarantee that the vaccines will work as effectively should one get infected with a new strain after vaccination. Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that if the new strains become dominant, “the experience of our colleagues in South Africa indicates that even if you’ve been infected with the original virus that there is a very high rate of reinfection. Previous infection does not seem to protect you against reinfection. There is also a possibility that the current vaccines won’t fully protect against the new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. That’s being studied feverishly right now, so stay tuned.”

Experts are also unaware if a vaccination means that an individual can still be an asymptomatic carrier and therefore continue to spread the virus unknowingly. Additionally, researchers are continuously studying vaccinated individuals to determine how long immunity lasts and whether or not adults will need to receive booster shots down the line to maintain that immunity. 

The same logic should be applied to hanging out with other individuals who have also been vaccinated. Experts claim that even if you and your friends are all vaccinated you should take proper precautions before hanging out such as waiting at least 10 days after you receive your second dose and continuing to social distance. 

It’s going to be a while before the world fully recovers from theis pandemic, and things like sports games, concerts, bars, and restaurants are open for close-contact maskless fun. For now, continue to follow all the proper guidelines, wear a mask, and wait to hear from your healthcare provider in regards to when you can receive your vaccine.

Sputnik V Vaccine

Russia’s Sputnik V Vaccine Is Safe And Effective Against Treating Covid-19 

Russia announced this week that their Sputnik V vaccine is 91.6% effective against symptomatic Covid-19, and 100% effective against severe and moderate cases of the disease, according to an initial analysis of the vaccine’s Phase 3 trial data. 

The data has been collected from 19,866 participants; three-quarters (14,964) of them received two doses of the vaccine while a quarter (4,902) of them received a placebo. 16 cases of symptomatic Covid-19 appeared in the vaccine group 21 days after the first dose of the vaccine had been distributed. 62 cases were found in the placebo group, which led to the 91.6% efficacy conclusion. 

Serious adverse effects from the vaccine were rare, and none were considered to be directly caused by the vaccine and more so due to the individuals personal health. Pain at injection sites, flu-like symptoms, and low energy levels were among the most common side effects; much like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. 

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The data analysis only accounts for symptomatic cases of Covid-19, and the authors concluded that more research would need to be done to see how the vaccine impacts asymptomatic Covid-19 transmission and how long protection may last. Dr. Inna V Dolzhikova was a co-author of the study who suggested that the vaccine has “a high efficacy, immunogenicity, and a good tolerability profile in participants aged 18 or older.” 

Dolzhikova works at Russia’s Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology, which developed the Sputnik V Vaccine. The participants in the trial were given PCR Covid-19 tests when they received the second shot and were required to take another test if they reported any symptoms of respiratory infection.

The Sputnik V vaccine is a two-dose adenoviral vector vaccine using two different adenoviruses for each dose, with doses administered 21 days apart. With this type of vaccine, an adenovirus is altered so that it can deliver a piece of genetic material from the virus that causes Covid-19 into the body and get cells to express the spike induced on the virus and induce an immune response. It’s an approach similar to the vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson,” according to new reports.

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The authors say by using an adenoviral vaccine, recipients may have a more powerful immune response. The other advantage of these kinds of vaccines in general is that they don’t need to be stored at extremely cold temperatures for transport. Sputnik V can be kept in any basic refrigerator, and it only costs $10 per dose. 

Dr. Julian Tang, a clinical virologist at the University of Leicester claimed that this news is “a useful addition to the published data on Covid-19 vaccine effectiveness, however, the median follow up was 48 days from the first dose, so the study cannot assess the full duration of protection yet.” 

The vaccine is being funded by the Russian Direct Investment Fund which will also be responsible for selling it globally. So far the vaccine has been approved in Russia, Belarus, Serbia, Argentina, Bolivia, Algeria, Venezuela, Paraguay, Turkmenistan, Hungary, UAE, Iran, Guinea, Tunisia, Armenia and the Palestinian territories. The vaccine has already been administered to more than 2 million people worldwide.

Americans Covid-19 Vaccine

CDC Reports 22 Million Americans Have Now Been Vaccinated For Covid-19 Safely 

Early safety data from the first month of Covid-19 vaccinations in America has shown that the shots are just as safe as the studies have suggested. So far every individual who has experienced an allergic reaction to the vaccine has been successfully treated, and no other serious problems have appeared within the 22 million people who have now been vaccinated. 

The data has been collected from several different tracking systems throughout the nation. One of the voluntary programs lets patients easily text any symptoms they experience after being vaccinated directly to the researchers collecting the information. Another program specifically seeks out people who have had a negative reaction to the vaccine and the other collects reports from medical records.

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The CDC has claimed it’s nearly impossible to prove something is 100% safe, however, the data from these tracking systems is exactly what health officials need to see in order to continue with vaccination programs, as they only further prove what the trials already told them. These systems have also ensured healthcare officials already that the approved vaccines are not causing any dangerous or negative effects among large groups of people; meaning any negative symptom that has appeared so far has been due to the individuals personal immune response and isn’t an indication of a larger problem. 

As it currently stands more than 22 million Americans have received at least one of the two vaccine doses from either Pfizer or Moderna. Of those more than 70% reported pain, 33% fatigue, 30% headaches, 23% muscle pain, and about 11% chills, fever, swelling, or joint pain. The side effects were also the same among both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines, though people generally had a harder time recovering from the second dose than the first. 

According to the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, “more than 9,000 people reported side effects after vaccination. The problems in slightly more than 1,000 of those reports were considered serious. The majority of complaints involved headaches, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, chills, fever and pain.”

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One way that the CDC looks to see whether or not a vaccine is safe or not is to look at the number of individuals who have died within a few days of their vaccination, and compare it to the number of people expected to die over a given period of time. The reporting system showed 196 deaths after Covid-19 vaccinations, of those, 66% were residents of long-term care facilities; 1.3 million nursing home residents have been vaccinated within the past month. 

“In a group that large followed over that length of time, 11,440 people would be expected to die of all causes. That led the CDC to conclude the much lower number of nursing home deaths were not caused by vaccination,” according to Barbara Bardenheier of the Brown University School of Public Health. 

“Findings suggest that short-term mortality rates appear unrelated to vaccination for COVID-19 in skilled nursing facility residents,” according to a summary of the study’s results. The CDC is currently investigating whether or not individuals who have had Covid-19 in the past and have been vaccinated are more susceptible to an allergic response, however, no solid link has been found at this time.

COVID-19 Economy

New Covid-19 Variants Could Pose Major Threat To Global Economy In 2021

According to the International Monetary Fund, the pandemic could potentially hinder a global economic turnaround this year despite the slew of mass vaccination programs being implemented throughout the world and various levels of stimulus packages helping assist some countries. 

The IMF does believe that the global economy will grow by 5% this year, which is .3% faster than they previously forecasted in the fall of 2020. The Fund claimed that this increase “reflects expectations of a vaccine-powered strengthening of activity later in the year and additional policy support in a few large economies.” 

The IMF also estimates that the world economy shrank by 3.5% in 2020; the biggest decline since the Great Depression. Surging infections that began appearing at the end of 2020, renewed lockdowns, logistical issues with vaccine distribution, and a slew of new Covid-19 variants could make it extremely difficult for the global economy to recover. 

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Gita Gopinath is a chief economist of the IMF who recently uploaded a blog post regarding the IMF’s predictions for 2021 and beyond; the fund expects global growth to slow to 4.2% in 2022. 

“Much now depends on the outcome of this race between a mutating virus and vaccines to end the pandemic, and on the ability of policies to provide effective support until that happens.” 

Some countries are expected to recover much more quickly than others. China, for example, was one of the only global economies that actually grew in 2020. The country is currently projected to achieve an 8.1% economic growth this year as well. Even the United States is expected to emerge from their deep economic slump to see a 5.1% increase in growth. 

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“The 19 countries that use the euro are expected to see growth of 4.2% in 2021. The United Kingdom, which endured a 10% contraction last year as it left the European Union and is now battling a new coronavirus variant, would rebound with relatively modest growth of 4.5%,” according to the IMF.

The IMF continued to explain that “the wide divergence reflects an important extent differences across countries in behavioral and public health responses to infections, flexibility and adaptability of economic activity to low mobility, pre-existing trends, and structural rigidities entering the crisis.”

The pandemic overall is causing “exceptional uncertainty” in regards to economic recovery, and “although new restrictions following the surge in infections suggest growth could be weaker than projected in early 2021, other factors pull the distribution of risks in the opposite direction.” 

IMF claims that if the vaccine distribution and efficacy goes as smoothly as it’s currently projected to go, economic outputs could exceed these expectations by as much as 1% globally, which would be amazing for job markets everywhere.

Glass Covid Vaccine Bottles

President Biden Announces Purchase Of 200 Million Covid-19 Vaccine Doses 

President Joe Biden announced a slew of executive orders and measures this week that are aimed at ramping up Covid-19 vaccine allocation and distribution. Part of the measures include the purchasing of 200 million more vaccine doses and increased distribution to states by millions of doses beginning next week. 

With those additional doses Biden said that the US has now acquired enough vaccines to fully vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of the summer or early fall; that’s nearly the entire population in America. When he announced the acquisition of the additional doses he referred to combating the Covid-19 pandemic as a “wartime undertaking,” especially considering the mess that he was left with from the previous administration. 

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“We now have a national strategy to beat Covid-19. It’s comprehensive, it’s based on science, not politics. It’s based on truth, not denial, and it’s detailed.”

The deal entails the US purchasing 100 million more doses from Pfizer/BioNTech and 100 million more from Moderna as well; the only two drugmakers with approved vaccines in the US. The two-dose vaccines that have been granted emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration will hopefully be joined by other vaccines from the handful of other developers around the world nearing completion of their vaccine trials. 

However, as it currently stands the US can potentially get by with just the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine options. The new purchase will increase the current Covid-19 vaccine supply from 400 million to 600 million, according to an official working within the Biden administration. The President also committed to increasing weekly vaccine supplies for certain states, tribes, and territories; upping the amount of minimum doses distributed weekly to 10 million. 

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Biden’s Covid coordinator, Jeff Zients, informed governors this Tuesday that the Covid vaccine allocations for states will begin increasing by around 16% starting next week. The President claims that the US will soon be able to vaccinate up to 1.5 million people every day, and the nation could surpass that initial target after three weeks if all goes to plan. 

So far there have been around 22.7 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines administered to Americans. Biden’s initial goal was to get 100 million Americans fully vaccinated within his first 100 days in office, and with this new promise of increased distribution, he should have no issue meeting that goal. 

3.3 million Americans have received their second, and therefore final, dose of the Covid-19 vaccine treatment as of Tuesday evening. The President claimed that ensuring facilities have enough of the vaccine, syringes, and other necessary equipment/staff to administer the vaccines will be top priority along with this increased production. 

Biden signed an executive order on his first day in office that would speed up the development and distribution of these supplies. He claimed that the worst part of his current administration’s plan is the fact that they’re essentially starting from scratch after 421,000+ Americans have already died. “The sad part is the last administration didn’t leave anything, didn’t even leave a plan.” However, Biden and his administration are confident that within the coming months more and more Americans will be vaccinated and life can begin to feel a little normal again.