At a briefing on Friday, White House COVID-19 response team coordinator Jeff Zients lauded President Joe Biden for re-setting his goal for vaccination distribution, adding that the team was up to the task.
At his first presidential press briefing on Thursday, Biden announced that he now hopes to inject 200 million doses of COVID-19 into Americans’ arms within his first 100 days in office.
Zients said Friday, such a goal was unimaginable when Biden took office.
"No one even contemplated reaching this goal just a few months ago,” Zients said.
Bloomberg reports that for the last seven days, the U.S. has administered an average of 2.5 million doses per day. Should the U.S. keep that pace, the Biden administration would meet its new goal.
"It's clear there is a case for optimism, but there is no case for relaxation,” Zients said.
Zients also said during Friday’s briefing that the U.S. is set to get a boost in supply next week, as Biden administration officials are expecting 11 million new doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine to be delivered next week.
The delivery comes weeks after Johnson & Johnson was unable to meet its goal of 10 million initial doses upon its authorization in February. However, the company has since partnered with rival Merck to produce additional doses.
Zients said Friday that with next week’s scheduled 11 million dose delivery, Johnson & Johnson will have met its first-quarter goal of delivering 20 million doses by the end of March.
However, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said she remains “deeply concerned” about the current COVID-19 case rate in the U.S. She noted that cases have risen 7% week-over-week and that deaths linked to the virus have stalled at about 1,000 a day.
"Please, take this moment very seriously,” Walensky said.
At a briefing on Wednesday, team members said they were encouraged by increased vaccination rates and studies that show the vaccines are working. However, they voiced concern about case rates that have appeared to have stalled in recent weeks after months of decline and said they worried about reports of spring breakers who are disregarding public health guidelines.
“We are at the corner. Whether or not we’re going to be turning that corner still remains to be seen,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday.