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Biden says all US adults to be eligible for Covid jab from 1 May in national address

In an address to the nation last night, Biden said Americans may have a “truly special” independence day this year.

Biden speaking in the White House's East Room last night.
Biden speaking in the White House's East Room last night.
Image: Andrew Harnik/PA Images

JOE BIDEN HAS said he is hopeful speeding up US Covid-19 vaccination efforts will allow Americans to gather in small groups on the fourth of July to celebrate a “truly special” independence day.

He also said in his first primetime address since becoming president he would order the states to make all adults eligible for jabs by 1 May, with eligibility currently based on age and health conditions.

Biden announced moves to increase vaccinations, including lifting eligibility qualifications, deploying an additional 4,000 active-duty troops to support vaccination efforts and allowing more people to deliver shots.

He is also directing more doses toward some 950 community health centers and up to 20,000 retail pharmacies, to make it easier for people to get vaccinated closer to their homes.

The New York Times, meanwhile, has reported that tens of millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are sitting unused in American manufacturing facilities while other countries that have approved the vaccine ask for the doses to be given to them. 

While over 70 counties, including Ireland, has approved the AstraZeneca vaccine it has not yet been approved in the US.

‘Truly special’

Speaking in the White House East Room, Biden marked one year since the onset of the pandemic that has killed more than 530,000 Americans and disrupted the lives of countless more.

“While it was different for everyone, we all lost something,” he said, calling the past year “a collective suffering, a collective sacrifice.”

He predicted Americans could safely gather at least in small groups on July the fourth to “make this independence day truly special”.

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But he also cautioned that this was a “goal” and attaining it depends on people’s cooperation in following public health guidelines and rolling up their sleeves to get vaccinated as soon as eligible.

The president condemned the violence Asian Americans have endured since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, saying “it is wrong, it is un-American and it must stop”.

Earlier yesterday, the president signed into law a $1.9 trillion (€1.59 trillion) relief package that he said will help defeat the virus, nurse the economy back to health and deliver direct aid to Americans in need.

“This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country,” Biden said as he signed the bill in the Oval Office.

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