At the same time, he warned Americans to continue to take the necessary precautionary measures. “This fight is far from over.” New variants of the virus and other developments could undo recent advances, he warned.
Emergency approval for Johnson & Johnson
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued emergency approval for Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine on Saturday. The group had signed a contract with the US government to deliver 100 million doses of the vaccine by the end of June. Thanks to the support of the government, which among other things enables production around the clock, the delivery can now take place by the end of May, said the Ministry of Health.
In addition, the new vaccine is now also to be produced by the competing pharmaceutical company Merck. The government will pay Merck a start-up financing of around 270 million dollars (around 225 million euros), the company said. The experienced vaccine manufacturer does not yet have its own vaccine against the coronavirus in its program. It is unclear by when and how many doses of the Johnson & Johnson preparation Merck will manufacture.
First vaccination dose for all teaching staff in March
Biden also announced that he would instruct the states to give preference to teachers, school staff and educators for vaccinations where they have not yet done so. “We want every educator, school worker and childcare worker to receive at least one vaccination by the end of March,” said Biden. It is necessary to get children safely back to the classroom as soon as possible.
USA will have enough vaccine by May
US President Joe Biden announced that all Americans could be vaccinated by the end of May.
The US government will receive 300 million doses each from the manufacturers of the two previously approved vaccines, Biontech and Pfizer and Moderna, by the end of July at the latest. Two doses are required for each vaccination; the amount alone would therefore be sufficient to supply all of the almost 260 million adults in the country. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is effective after just one injection. The vaccines are currently only approved for adults.
So far, almost 52 million people in the USA have received at least one vaccination, and a good 26 million people have already received both vaccinations, according to data from the CDC health authority.
“Vaccine” instead of “Jolene”: Dolly Parton sings before vaccination
The US country icon Dolly Parton (75) is one of the 52 million vaccinated so far. “Dolly receives a dose of her own medicine,” the singer wrote on Twitter and Instagram on Tuesday to a video of the vaccination at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in the US state of Tennessee. A doctor there injected the vaccine from the US manufacturer Moderna into her right upper arm.
Last year, Parton supported research by the pharmaceutical company Moderna for the vaccine with a million donation. She was absolutely thrilled to finally be vaccinated, said Parton. In the video, she tuned a repositioned version of her hit song “Jolene” to “Vaccine”. She wanted to be a bit of fun with it, but with the vaccinations she meant it “dead serious”. All cowards should take heart and get vaccinated, Parton urged her fans.
“It’s Time”: Easings in Texas and Mississippi
The large state of Texas, meanwhile, will lift the mask requirement and all capacity limits for restaurants and other companies on Wednesday next week. “Now is the time to open Texas 100 percent,” said Republican Governor Greg Abbott. In view of the successful vaccination campaign, the time for restrictions on the economy is over.
The approximately 29 million inhabitants of the southern state are called upon to adhere to the medical advice to contain the pandemic. But it no longer needs government regulations, said Abbott.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves also said all masks and capacity restrictions for restaurants and companies would end. “It’s time,” the Republican wrote on Twitter. Around three million people live in the state. Other states, including Ohio and Michigan, have at least announced easing of their CoV requirements.
Health authorities warned against premature easing
The head of the US health authority CDC had only warned on Monday not to rush to lift the restrictions. The coronavirus expert Ashish Jha from Brown University in Providence commented on Twitter that the lifting of the restrictions would put Governor Abbott “a great risk to people’s lives.” A high-ranking CoV advisor Biden, Andy Slavitt, called the announcements from Texas and Mississippi a “mistake”.
The number of new infections in the USA has fallen sharply since the beginning of the year – from over 200,000 per day to an average of over 60,000. However, experts warn that there could be another increase due to the new variants of the virus. Since the pandemic started just over a year ago, US authorities have reported nearly 29 million confirmed infections and 516,000 deaths related to the coronavirus.