WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden will be taking a new direction to speed release of coronavirus vaccines when he assumes office Jan. 20.
His office said Friday that Biden would curtail the current practice of holding back vaccine doses to guarantee that people who get their first shot can also get a required second inoculation three weeks later.
Under the Trump administration’s approach, the government has been holding back a supply of vaccines to guarantee that people can get a second shot, which provides maximum protection against COVID-19.
After an initial glow of hope when vaccines were approved last month, the nation's vaccination campaign has gotten off to a slow start.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 5.9 million people have received an initial dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Friday and more than 21.4 million doses have been distributed.
The increase in vaccinations would come at a critical time. The U.S. continues to break death toll records. On Thursday, the nation topped 4,000 daily deaths from the coronavirus for the first time. That broke a record set just the day before.
More than 365,000 Americans have now died from the coronavirus, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
The surge in cases and deaths is being seen in a number of Sun Belt states, where spikes of the virus were seen over the summer.
The numbers are another reminder of the worsening situation following travel for holidays and family gatherings, along with more time indoors during the winter months.