United States President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced that all adults in America would be eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine from April 19, AP reported. He also lauded the administration’s success in accelerating the pace of inoculation as the US administered a record 4 million doses in a single day.
Biden, however, cautioned citizens against lowering their guard. “We aren’t at the finish line,” Biden said at the White House. “We still have a lot of work to do. We’re still in a life-and-death race against this virus.” He warned against “new variants” of the virus. “Cases are going back up, hospitalisations are no longer declining,” said Biden.
The US president said the new deadline would clear all uncertainties shrouding the eligibility for the vaccine. “No more confusing rules, no more confusing restrictions,” he added. Earlier this week, many US states such as New Jersey and Oregon announced that all Americans over 16 would be eligible to sign up for a vaccine on April 19.
More than 28 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine will be delivered to states this week, said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. With this, the total over the past three weeks comes to 90 million doses. Since January 20, the US has administered 150 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine. Biden had set a goal of administering 200 million shots by his 100th day in office. Biden will complete 100 days in office on April 30.
More than 40% of US adults, including 75% of those above 65 years of age, have been vaccinated. Biden called it a “dramatic turnaround” in the country’s fight against the virus. He, however, urged people to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour like mask wearing and physical distancing till the entire population is vaccinated.
On Tuesday, US’ top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci warned that the country was at a “critical time” and there could be another surge. “That would be a setback for public health, but that would be a psychological setback too,” he said during an interview with the National Press Club. “We just don’t want to have to go back to really shutting things down. That would be terrible.”
The United States continues to be the worst-affected country in the world. As many as 5,54,064 people have died of coronavirus in the US so far.
Other global updates
- For the first time since the pandemic began, Brazil recorded 4,195 deaths in 24 hours. With this, the country’s toll is 3,37,000, second only to the US. However, President Jair Bolsonaro continues to oppose all measures to break the chain. “Brazil now... is a threat to the entire effort of the international community to control the pandemic,” a doctor tracking the cases in Brazil told BBC. “If Brazil is not under control, then the planet is not going to be safe, because we are brewing new variants every week...and they are going to cross borders.”
- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called on the European Union to supply the outstanding AstraZeneca Covid vaccine doses. The country has accused the bloc of “arguing semantics” after the European Commission said just one shipment of 2,50,000 AstraZeneca doses has been formally blocked.
- In Greece, the Aegean islands is likely to become the first fully vaccinated area by end of April. “We have so many smaller isles,” said Marios Themistocleous, the health ministry official overseeing the inoculation drive. “Precisely because they’re so difficult to get supplies to, we decided to vaccinate entire populations in one go with the aim that when they begin receiving tourists, permanent residents are fully vaccinated and protected.”
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday said his country was facing “a very serious third wave” of the pandemic. He warned that hospitalisations were increasing and coronavirus variants were spreading faster. “Around the world, countries are facing a very serious third wave of this pandemic and right now, so is Canada,” he said. “Even if the sun is shining and the weather is getting warmer, Covid-19 isn’t done with us yet.”