100 million vaccines in 100 days plan on track: US

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The new US government says its vaccination drive will bring an end to the pandemic in the country. But it warns there are many months of hardship still ahead.

The country continues to lead the world with the highest caseload and death toll – more than 26 million people have been infected, almost 450 000 have died.

A year ago former US President Donald Trump predicted COVID-19 was just weeks away from disappearing. But a year on, with millions infected, hundreds of thousands dead, America’s response has proved vastly inadequate.

“We are at war with this virus, it is clearly a national emergency and we are doing all we can,” says US COVID-19 Response Coordinator, Jeff Zients.

Now comes the race to vaccinate the population. But some are skeptical of getting a shot. One study shows more than a third of Americans are not willing to get vaccinated.

Janice Derow was a vaccine volunteer as part of the AstraZeneca-Oxford trial. She saw the devastating effects of the virus on her home city of New York.

“I would hope that people have confidence in it. I know there’s discussion about the concern of the speed that things have been developed at. But I think it’s been built on previous scientific experience of vaccines,” says Derow.

Distributing the vaccines across the country is a logistical challenge. Less than 2% of America’s population of almost 330 million have so far received the double doses.

Experts say the economic crisis of 2008 saw state budgets cut, making hospitals and health agencies less prepared to handle the pandemic.

Looking back on the 12 months of COVID-19 in the US: 

Senior Fellow for Global Health, Council on Foreign Relations, Jennifer Nuzzo, says: “We have not only hemorrhaged numbers of people but we have hemorrhaged expertise. So when COVID hit, we were left a public health infrastructure that had really not been improved upon since the early 2000s. A staff that was a fraction of what it had been a few years earlier, and people without expertise.”

The Biden administration says they inherited a logistical mess from the Trump government, that’s now hampering their own efforts. Even so, the new administration says it has increased vaccine distribution by 20% in its first two weeks in office. And that it’s on track to administer its target of 100 million vaccines in the President’s first 100 days.

However, the government’s own health experts admit the country is still many months away from returning to some sense of normality.