Reuters -The first known U.S. case of a highly infectious coronavirus variant was detected in Colorado on Tuesday as President-elect Joe Biden warned it could take years for most Americans to be vaccinated for the virus at current distribution rates.
Biden, a Democrat, said about 2 million people have been vaccinated, well short of the 20 million that outgoing Republican President Donald Trump had promised by the end of the year. Biden defeated Trump in a November election.
“The effort to distribute and administer the vaccine is not progressing as it should,” Biden said in Wilmington, Delaware. At the current rate, “it’s going to take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people.”
It has been detected in a number of European countries, as well as in Canada, Australia, India, South Korea and Japan, among others.
Polis said in a statement the infected patient was a man in his 20s with no recent travel history who is currently in isolation in Denver.
“Public health officials are doing a thorough investigation” and the individual has “no close contacts identified so far,” he said, adding that the state has notified the federal government.
Biden’s goal of ensuring that 100 million vaccinations are administered by the end of his 100th day in office would mean “ramping up five to six times the current pace to 1 million shots a day,” Biden said, noting that it would require Congress to approve additional funding.
Even at such an ambitious rate, it would still take months for the majority of Americans to be vaccinated, he said, adding that the situation may not improve until “well into March.”
Biden also said he plans to invoke the Defense Production Act, which grants the president the power to expand industrial production of key materials or products for national security or other reasons, to accelerate production of vaccine materials.
Trump himself has invoked the law during the pandemic.
To reopen schools safely, Biden said Congress will need to provide funding for such things as additional transportation, so students can maintain social distancing and improved ventilation in school buildings.
Trump defended his administration’s record after Biden concluded his remarks.
“It is up to the States to distribute the vaccines once brought to the designated areas by the Federal Government. We have not only developed the vaccines, including putting up money to move the process along quickly, but gotten them to the states,” he said on Twitter.
Trump, who had COVID-19 in October, has often played down the severity of the pandemic and overseen a response many health experts say was disorganized and cavalier and sometimes ignored the science behind disease transmission.
Culled from Reuters