All US adults will be eligible for Covid-19 vaccine by April 19th, says Biden.

All adults in the United States will be eligible to receive a vaccine by April 19th, US president Joe Biden announced on Tuesday, as the vaccine rollout continued apace in states across the country.

Mr Biden announced the new date – two weeks ahead of the previous May 1st deadline – after visiting a pop-up vaccination site in Virginia.

But he warned that the pandemic was “not over yet”.

“We’re still in a life and death race against this virus,” he said.

“Better times are ahead – you can have a safe and happy fourth of July… the real question is how much death disease and misery we’re going to see before now and then.”

He continued: “The pandemic remains dangerous . . .even moving at the record speed we’re moving it, we’re not even halfway through vaccinating 300 million Americans. “

“The virus is spreading because we have too many people who see the end . . . and think we’re at the finish line already,” he said, as he urged people to continue washing their hands, practice social distancing and to wear masks.

Mr Biden also confirmed that America had reached the milestone of administering 150 million vaccines since he took office. On average, around 3 million vaccines are being administered each day nationally, with each state responsible for administering vaccines to their residents.

During his visit to Virginia, Mr Biden was asked about the prospect of sharing surplus vaccines with other countries. He said that “hopefully” this could happen “pretty soon”.

“Because this is something that . . .we can’t solve [just] here in America. You can’t build a wall or fence high enough to keep out a virus.”

The US has already committed to sending Astra Zeneca vaccines, which have not yet been approved for use by American regulators, to neighbouring Canada and Mexico.

The latest update from the US president about the vaccination programme occurred amid push-back at state and federal level about the introduction of so-called vaccines “passports”.

Texas followed Florida on Tuesday by prohibiting the obligatory use of documentation proving vaccination. Republican governor Greg Abbott signed an order into law stating that Covid vaccines “are always voluntary and never forced.”

“Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives,” he said in a statement. Texas lifted its mask mandate last month.

Federal mandate

The White House also dismissed the idea of some kind of federal vaccine passport system.

“The government is not now nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”

It comes as the World Health Organisation (WHO) outlined its opposition to “vaccine passports” on Tuesday, stating that the organisation was not certain at this stage that Covid-19 vaccines prevent transmission, and also noting the inequitable distribution of vaccines across the world.

Separately, Montana’s governor, Greg Gianforte, tested positive for Covid, five days after receiving his first vaccine. His office said he would now quarantine for ten days.

Meanwhile the IMF revised downwards its estimate for the rate of economic contraction across the world due to the Covid pandemic.

Predicting that the global economy will grow by 6 per cent in 2021 and 4.4 per cent in 2022, it said that developed economies would recover from the pandemic, though this was not the case for developing and poorer countries.

The Irish Times

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