The Biden administration plans to buy 100 million more doses each of Pfizer and Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine in order to vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of summer, he announced Tuesday.
That's nearly the entire U.S. population, which is officially estimated at 329 million - and therefore well over the 80% estimated to be the point at which there will be herd immunity.
'The biggest problem, I hope you're all asking me by the end of summer is that you have too much vaccine leftover,' Biden said at the White House Tuesday afternoon.
Biden delivered the update Tuesday on the heels of Vice President Kamala Harris getting her second shot of the Moderna vaccine at the Bethesda, Maryland headquarters of the National Institutes of Health.
But Biden also said at his appearance that the vaccine program 'is in worse shape than we anticipated or expected' when taking it over less than a week ago from President Donald Trump's team.
'We want to give credit to everyone involved in this vaccine effort and the prior administration and the science community and the medical sphere,' he said. 'That credit is absolutely due.'
But he said, co-operation during the transition only came at the end, and he said: Once we arrived, a vaccine program is in worse shape than we anticipated or expected.'
Going forward, Biden said the administration will increase the supply of vaccines to states, tribes and territories from 8.6 million doses to a minimum of 10 million doses.
'Starting next week, that's an increase of 1.4 million doses per week,' Biden said.
'And so this is going to allow millions of more Americans to get vaccinated sooner than previously anticipated,' he added.
However the White House press secretary Jen Psaki had earlier walked back Biden's optimistic assertion Monday that he hoped to have enough vaccines in spring that every American who wanted the vaccine would get one.
President Joe Biden gave a COVID-19 update on Tuesday explaining that the administration would buy 100 million doses of each of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines
President Joe Biden (center) gives an update on the coronavirus vaccine Tuesday. He was accompanied by Jeffrey Zients (right), the head of the Biden administration's COVID-19 taskforce
Vice President Kamala Harris received her second dose of the Moderna vaccine Tuesday at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda
Dr. Anthony Fauci (left) and second gentleman Doug Emhoff (right) watch as Vice President Kamala Harris receives her second shot of vaccine
Only about 23 million Americans - six per cent of the population - has been vaccinated with about 1.25 million shots per day
The U.S. has only given six percent of its population their first COVID-19 vaccine and 0.9 percent both shots
On Tuesday Biden also promised the state and local leaders 'will now always have a reliable three-week forecast of the supply they're going to get.'
'Until now, we've had to guess how much vaccine to expect for the next week and that's what the governors had to do: "how much am I getting next week?" This is unacceptable,' Biden said.
By knowing these figures, Biden said, governors, mayors and local leaders can carry out their plans to vaccinate the largest number of people possible.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are two-shot doses.
Moderna announced earlier Tuesday that the company was on track to supply the U.S. with 100 million doses by March and up to 200 million doses by June.
Biden said by increasing the supply and being transparent about the supply, the U.S. should 'God willing' be able to get to his goal of 100 million shots in the first 100 days of the administration.
'But I also want to be clear, 100 million shots in 100 days is not the end point, it's just the start,' the president said. 'We're not stopping there. The end goal is to beat COVID-19. And the way we do that is to get more people vaccinated, which means we have to be ready after we hit the goal of 100 million shots in 100 days.'
Biden then relayed the administration's plan to buy 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 100 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which would be enough to vaccine 100 million more Americans.
Biden continued to call fighting the coronavirus a 'wartime effort,' noting that the 400,000-plus death toll topped all the World War II American dead.
'And we're using the Defense Production Act to launch a full-scale wartime effort to address the supply shortages we inherited from the previous administration,' Biden explained.
The president said the administration was continuing to work to get the vaccines into local pharmacies around the country.
'But the brutal truth is, it's going to take months before we get the majority of American vaccinated. In the next few months, masks, not vaccines are the best defense against COVID-19,' the president also said. 'Experts say that wearing masks from now on, just until April would save 50,000 who otherwise will pass away if we don't wear these masks.'
NYC has just 7,710 first doses of COVID-19 vaccine left - as Mayor de Blasio begs federal government to let him start using his reserved 200k second doses
New York City has just 7,710 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine left, prompting Mayor Bill de Blasio to beg the federal government to allow him to give out supplies currently reserved for second shots.
The vaccine supply for first doses had dwindled to 7,710 in NYC as of Tuesday, according to the city's health department.
There are currently 202,119 shots put aside for those who need to receive their second dose of the vaccine.
De Blasio has argued that he should be able to start handing out the reserved doses while the city waits for its next vaccine shipment.
He has asked the federal government for authorization to do so.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has argued that he should be able to start handing out the reserved doses while the city waits for its next vaccine shipment. The vaccine supply for first doses had dwindled to 7,710 as of Tuesday
'I'd rather give more people some protection than fewer people full protection,' de Blasio said.
He acknowledged that it could potentially mean delays for people waiting to receive their second shot.
'Even if we have to say to people, 'Your second dose is going to be slightly delayed,' it's still better to get a first dose in as many people's arms as possible to give them that 50 percent protection,' de Blasio said.
'Otherwise, what we're left with is a situation where we can do very few vaccinations at all. We're just stuck right now because we don't have supply.'
The Mayor had earlier tweeted the city could be doing more if it wasn't for vaccine shortages.
'New York City has now vaccinated more people than the entire population of Portland, Oregon. We could be doing MUCH more,' he tweeted.
The city handed out just over 7,000 first doses and 8,800 second doses on Monday.
Given the supply shortages, the city is on track to fall short of de Blasio's goal of one million vaccinations by the end of the month.
The city handed out just over 7,000 first doses and 8,800 second doses on Monday
The vaccine supply for first doses had dwindled to 7,710 in NYC as of Tuesday, according to the city's health department. There are currently 202,119 shots put aside for those who need to receive their second dose of the vaccine
The Biden administration will now give states an approximately 17 percent boost in vaccine next week following complaints around the US of shortages so severe that some vaccination sites had to cancel tens of thousands of appointments with people waiting for their first shot.
New York is among the sites who have had to cancel appointments.
Detailed figures posted on the CDC website on Tuesday showed that the government plans to make about 10.1 million first and second doses available next week, which is up from this week's allotment of 8.6 million.
The increase comes as vaccination sites around the US are canceling large numbers of appointments because of vaccine shortages. Governors and top health officials have complained about inadequate supplies and the need for earlier and more reliable estimates of how much is on the way so that they can plan accordingly.
Members of the Illinois National Guard vaccinate residents against COVID-19 at a mass vaccination center set up at the Tinley Park Convention Center in Illinois
Biden didn't name the lawmaker, but called a congressman 'not very American' for refusing to wear a mask.
'I tell him to kiss my ear,' Biden said, explaining he could have used a 'very, very colorful term' to make that point.
At an appearance in Wilmington before his swearing-in, Biden had already shamed the group of Republican lawmakers who were caught on film refusing to put on masks during the January 6 MAGA riot.
'The fact is, if you want to be patriotic, you're gonna protect people,' Biden said Tuesday.
A short time earlier, Harris had taken a motorcade up to the Maryland headquarters of the NIH, where her late mother would travel to work.
'We would always know that mommy was going to this place called Bethesda,' Harris recounted.
'My mother had two goals in her life: to raise her two daughters and end breast cancer,' she continued. 'In fact, little known fact my first job was cleaning pipettes in my mother's lab.'
The vice president talked about how her mother was 'profoundly passionate about a gift.'
Vice President Kamala Harris thanked the staff at the National Institutes of Health and talked about how her mother would visit the agency's Bethesda headquarters for work when Harris was a child
'Which is the gift that scientists give to us in that their whole reason for being is to see what can be unburdened by what has been,' Harris continued. 'Their whole reason for being is to pursue what is possible for the sake of improving human life and condition.'
She then spoke directly to the NIH staff.
'So I want to say to everyone who works here: I know who you are. I know that you work around the clock with those experiments that have to be checked on every few hours and they don’t care about what time it is in the clock. I know the work you do and the collaboration that is required. I know the work that you do reviewing grants because of course some of the most significant scientific research have been publicly funded. That’s what my mother did: she reviewed grants,' Harris said.
She called it a 'luxury' to get her second dose of the Moderna vaccine at the headquarters.
When Judy Lai Yee Chan, a nurse practitioner, gave Harris the vaccine she vice president joked, 'when are you going to put it in?' after the shot had been administered.
Dr. Anthony Fauci and Harris' husband, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, were seated nearby.
'I've had the vaccine and it was relatively painless,' the vice president said.
Later she assured those watching that she was fine.
'So I want to urge everyone to take the vaccine when it is your turn. It is really pretty painless and it will save your life,' Harris said.