WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s goal for 100 million Covid-19 vaccinations in his first 100 days is “ambitious” but “not our final goal,” White House chief of staff Ron Klain told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
While Klain called the aim “bold,” he said it is just an opening benchmark to show the American people they are moving quickly to vaccinate the country.
“One-hundred million shots is a bold, ambitious goal, but we need to keep going after that. That is our first goal, it’s not our final goal, it’s not the endpoint, it’s just a metric the American people can watch and measure how we are doing.”
The U.S. has hit the pace of 1 million vaccinations per day at the outset of the Biden administration, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine distribution tracker, putting the nation on track to hit that goal even as some experts say the new administration’s goal should be higher.
There had been more than 20.5 million coronavirus vaccine doses administered by Saturday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But there was still a significant gap, more than 20 million, between the number of vaccines distributed and administered.
When asked about the gap, Klain said that the “complex” problem required a host of fixes. And he said that while the Trump administration did make “progress we are building on” with developing the vaccines and beginning the initial wave of distribution, he doubled down on the Biden administration’s criticism of its predecessors and said that a wider distribution plan “did not really exist when we came into the White House.”
“We need more vaccine, we need more vaccinators, we need more vaccination sites. And in the Biden administration, we are tackling all three,” Klain said.
“We are going to set up these federal vaccination centers to make sure that in states that don’t have enough vaccination sites, we fill those gaps. We’re going to work closely with the manufacturers to ramp up production.”
“We’re going to use all the powers we have in the White House," Klain added. "We are going to work with Congress to get more funding to also accelerate this, so we can improve the rate at which we are vaccinating people.”
Covid-19 cases in America hit new peaks both after the Thanksgiving holiday and Christmas, but have started to drop in recent days. After a 16-day stretch in which there were more than 200,000 cases reported in all but one day, there have been six consecutive days with new, daily caseloads below 200,000.
But deaths have not yet seen the same decline. On two separate days last week, the country lost more than 4,100 people to the virus.