Remarks by President Biden on the Fight to Contain the COVID-19 Pandemic
Cross-posted from The White House
Note: Originally posted on January 26, 2021
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you for taking the time to be here. Good afternoon. I’m accompanied by Jeff Zients, who is heading up our whole COVID team. And today, what I’d like to do is to upgrade — update you on where we are. Tomorrow, we’re going to begin the briefings that are going to occur on a regular basis with Mr. Zients and his team. So we’re bringing back the pros to talk about COVID in an unvarnished way. Any questions you have, that’s how we’ll handle them because we’re letting science speak again.
And so, I — I’d like to update you on the aggressive steps we’re taking to meet our goal of administering 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots within — within a hundred days, and to ramp up the vaccine supply as fast as we can.
This will be one of the most difficult operational challenges we’ve ever undertaken as a nation. I’ve said that before, but I must say it again because we’re going to do — we’re going to do everything we can to get it done. But a lot of things can go wrong along the way.
And so, I’ve — as I’ve said in the past, we want to give credit to everyone involved in this vaccine effort and the prior administration and the science community and the medical sphere — (technical equipment falls to the floor) — for getting the program — I didn’t do it, I promise — (laughter) — for getting the program off the ground. And that credit is absolutely due.
But it’s also no secret that we have recently discovered, in the final days of the transition — and it wasn’t until the final days we got the kind of cooperation we needed — that once we arrived, the vaccine program is worse shape than we anticipated or expected. A lot of you who follow this — and nobody is — I mean this sincerely, the press is the smartest group of people in town; you hone this stuff down, clearly — I think you found the same thing.
Even before I took office, I announced a new vaccine — a vaccination strategy which centers on federal leadership and execution for our whole country. And that’s why I directed my COVID team to go to work immediately, and how we could step up the vaccination efforts and the vaccinations.
I’m pleased to announce the first progress in that work today on day seven of my presidency. First, after review of the current vaccine supply manufacturing plants, I can announce that we will increase overall weekly vaccination distribution to states, tribes, and territories from 8.6 million doses to a minimum of 10 million doses, starting next week. That’s an increase of 1.4 million doses per week.
And you all know — if I may note, parenthetically — you all know — know that the vaccines are distributed to states based on population. They’re based on population. And so the smaller the state, the less vaccine; the bigger the state, the more they get. And so this is going to allow millions of more Americans to get vaccinated sooner than previously anticipated. We got a long way to go, though.
The second thing: We’re increasing the transparency with states, cities, and tribes, and local partners when it comes to the vaccine supply. This is something we’ve heard over and over again from both Democrats and Republicans, state and local leaders: that they need a plan in order to what — they didn’t know what they had to plan on. They need to know what the order is going to be.
Jeff had a meeting with the governors on Zoom and — and others. And I think we’re getting this coordinated in a way that there’s increased cooperation and confidence.