Biden tours Pfizer vaccine plant as weather delays 6M shots across US. Here’s the latest.
President Joe Biden toured a state-of-the-art coronavirus vaccine plant Friday, intent on showcasing progress even as extreme winter weather across the U.S. handed his vaccination campaign its first major setback, delaying shipment of about 6 million doses and causing temporary closures of inoculation sites in many communities.
While acknowledging the weather is “slowing up the distribution,” Biden said at the Pfizer plant in Michigan that he believes “we’ll be approaching normalcy by the end of this year.” His speech melded a recitation of his administration’s accomplishments in its first month confronting the pandemic, a vigorous pitch for his $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill and criticism of his predecessor.
The disruptions caused by frigid temperatures, snow and ice have left the White House and states scrambling to make up lost ground as three days’ worth of vaccine shipments were temporarily delayed. Even the president’s trip to see Pfizer’s largest plant was pushed back a day due to a storm affecting the nation’s capital.
Before the trip, White House coronavirus response adviser Andy Slavitt said the federal government, states and local vaccinators are going to have to redouble efforts to catch up after the interruptions. The setback comes just as the vaccination campaign seemed to be on the verge of hitting its stride. All the backlogged doses should be delivered in the next several days, Slavitt said, still confident that the pace of vaccinations will recover.
In other developments:
- Millions of U.S. residents will need COVID-19 vaccines brought to them because they rarely or never leave their homes. Doctors and nurses who specialize in home care are leading this push but they face several challenges: Many homebound people don’t receive regular medical care, which makes it hard to identify everyone who needs a vaccine.
- Leaders of the Group of Seven economic powers have promised to immunize the world’s neediest people against the coronavirus by giving money and precious vaccine doses to a U.N.-backed vaccine distribution effort.
- Johnson & Johnson has applied to the World Health Organization for an emergency approval of its COVID-19 vaccines, which should help speed up its use in countries around the world.
- Authorities in central Europe are warning that they are seeing a surge in coronavirus cases across their region amid the discovery of new variants. The surge comes as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlines a roadmap for potentially easing lockdown restrictions in England, where the number of cases is dropping sharply.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has forced tens of thousands of restaurants to permanently shut their doors as dining restrictions keep customers away. But it has also been a boon for commercial auctioneers that buy used equipment and sell them to restaurants that managed to stay afloat.
- The NCAA will allow a limited number of fans to attend all rounds of its men’s basketball tournament in Indiana and later rounds of its women’s tournament in Texas.
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