WASHINGTON (NBC News/AP) – President Biden traveled to Michigan Friday to tour a Pfizer vaccine plant amid hopeful news the shots may be highly effective after one dose and may no longer require ultra-cold storage.
If approved, both changes could speed distribution of the desperately needed vaccine.
While acknowledging the weather is “slowing up the distribution,” Biden said at the Pfizer plant in Michigan that he believes “we’ll be approaching normalcy by the end of this year.” His speech melded a recitation of his administration’s accomplishments in its first month confronting the pandemic, a vigorous pitch for his $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill and criticism of his predecessor.
Biden has set a goal of administering 100 million shots in his administration’s first 100 days, and he said Friday that’s still on track and it’s only a beginning.
He went on to say that by the end of July his administration can deliver 600 million doses for Americans. Still, Biden cautioned that the timetable could change, citing the current weather delays and concerns about new strains of the virus as well as the possibility that production rates could fluctuate.
“We’re now on track to have enough vaccine supply for all Americans by the end of July,” Mr. Biden said.
Taking a swipe at former President Donald Trump, whom he did not cite by name, Biden allowed that the previous administration shepherded the approval of two highly effective vaccines. But “it’s one thing to have a vaccine available, the problem was how to get to people’s arms.”
“I believe we’ll be approaching normalcy by the end of this year,” he said. “God willing, this Christmas will be different than last, but I can’t make that commitment to you.”
Prior to his visit, the president delivered virtual remarks to allies in the G7 summit and Munich Security Conference.
Reversing his predecessor, he signaled the U.S. will no longer go it alone on international affairs.
“Democracy doesn’t happen by accident, we have to defend it, fight for it, strengthen it, renew it,” Mr. Biden said.
Mr. Biden had stern words for China and Russia, but stated he wants to revive the nuclear deal with Iran, if that country’s leaders can be held accountable.
“We must address Iran’s destabilizing activities across the Middle East,” he said.