More than 1 million people received a COVID-19 vaccination in the past 24 hours, the highest figure in more than a month and a half, President Joe Biden announced Thursday as the nation works to beat back the advance of the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus.
ABC News added that 562,000 of those shots were first doses, a key metric in the White House’s efforts to vaccinate millions of Americans who have so far hesitated to get inoculated. The delta variant has thrown any hopes for a vast reopening of society into disarray, with cases rising in every state in the country and hospitals from Hawaii to Arkansas running out of intensive care unit beds to treat a crush of severely ill people.
The figures released Thursday are below the peak of 3.4 million doses reported on April 13.
About 51% of Americans are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and about 60% have received at least one dose of a vaccine. The shots, however, are currently only approved for those 12 and older, and children are becoming infected with the coronavirus in record numbers.
The news comes about a day after the White House said most Americans would need booster shots of their vaccines at about eight months after getting their second dose in order to ensure robust protection against severe illness and death from COVID-19. The government will focus on the more than 150 million people who have been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. (Those who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will likely need a booster, too, but the company hasn’t completed clinical trials on the issue.)
The Food and Drug Administration still needs to release final guidance about a third shot, but it is expected to do so in the next few weeks. Boosters will be available beginning Sept. 20
“If you wait for something bad to happen before you respond to it, you find yourselves considerably behind your real full capability of being responsive,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told reporters Wednesday.
The booster strategy has drawn fierce criticism from global health officials at the World Health Organization who have called on rich nations to hold off on administering them until lower- and middle-income nations could vaccinate more of their populations.
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