NEW ORLEANS — Thursday, President Joe Biden announced his COVID-19 action plan, which includes vaccinating 100 million people in 100 days.
Some experts say it will require overcoming several hurdles, while critics say it’s not ambitious enough.
But is it possible? Dr. Jennifer Avegno, Director of the New Orleans Health Department, thinks so.
“Oh, it’s definitely doable. I mean, we’re almost doing that now. And I have to say, Louisiana is really doing well. When we get vaccine, it is going into arms,” she said.
More than 15 million people have been vaccinated across the country, according to Centers for Disease Control data, and about 912-thousand doses have been administered every day on average for the last week, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker.
That’s close to Biden’s one-million per day goal, but keeping that pace could be a challenge.
“Ok, so there’s three issues here. One is whether those doses have been produced. Two is whether those doses are in locations that are available, and three is whether there’s people who are willing to take those doses,” said Dr. Charles Stoecker, a health economist and vaccine policy expert at Tulane University.
He believes Biden’s new COVID response plan may be feasible, compared to the rocky rollout we saw last year, but it all depends on the infrastructure in place.
“You compare the two strategies, right? One where the federal government just drops the box on the state’s doorstep, and say, states, you take care of it. And one where the federal government says, alright, we are going to help you get this box into somebody’s arms,” said Dr. Stoecker.
“We really haven’t seen the federal government step into this place in a really muscular way, and I think there’s potential for it to help a lot here,” he continued. “This is how it should have been from the start.”
Congressman Steve Scalise hinted the goal wasn’t ambitious enough, though. He tweeted Thursday, “Biden wants you to believe “100 million vaccines in 100 days” is his plan. But it’s not. It was Trump’s. America is already on track for 100 million in 100 days. Biden could do 200 million in 100 days. Republicans would support it. Thanks to Trump, he’s already halfway there.”
While Dr. Anthony Fauci agreed that Biden was not “starting from scratch”, he said Trump’s plan didn’t go nearly far enough.
“But if you look at the plan that the president has put forth about the things that he's going to do mainly get community vaccine centers up, get pharmacies more involved you need, where appropriate get the Defense Production Act involved not only perhaps with getting more vaccine but even the things you need to get a good vaccine program, for example needles and syringes that might be more useful in that. So it's taking what's gone on but amplifying it in a big way,” said Dr. Fauci.
And setting a bold goal may make a difference.