Biden says getting there by summer’s end will be hard

A woman holds her one year-old son as they wait in line to get a coronavirus test at the Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center’s COVID-19 Testing site at 895 Blue Hill Avenue in Boston’s Roxbury on Nov. 10, 2020.

Jessica Rinaldi | Boston Globe | Getty Images

President Joe Biden won’t commit to achieving herd immunity to the coronavirus in the U.S. by the end of summer, suggesting a long road ahead to defeating the deadly virus.

“The idea that this can be done and we can get to herd immunity much before the end of this summer is very difficult,” Biden said in an interview broadcast on CBS on Sunday before the Super Bowl.

The comment came after journalist Norah O’Donnell said that at the current daily rate of about 1.3 million doses, it would take almost a year to vaccinate enough Americans to achieve herd immunity.

The White House has set a goal of 100 million doses in Biden’s first 100 days as a minimum, though the pace of vaccinations is higher than that. Biden seemed to up his goal late last month by saying he thinks the U.S. could administer up to 1.5 million doses per day.

Biden’s cautious remarks are in line with the warnings of scientists and public health officials as well as his past statements. They mark a reversal from the approach of Biden’s predecessor, former President Donald Trump, who often claimed that the end of the pandemic was around the corner.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading epidemiologist, has said at least 75% of the public must be inoculated against Covid-19 to achieve herd immunity. He has predicted a return to normal some time next fall.

Biden also said during the interview that he was exploring new ways to speed up vaccinations.

He said he supported a proposal from the National Football League to use its 30 stadiums as mass vaccination centers, but stopped short of committing to the plan.

“I’m telling my team they are available, and I believe we’ll use them,” Biden said.

Since it spread to the U.S. a year ago, the virus has killed more than 460,000 people in the U.S. and infected nearly 27 million.

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