Fauci: 70% vaccination rate needed in U.S. before ‘normal’ returns

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85 Percent of Americans Must Be Vaccinated for Normalcy to Return, Says Dr. Fauci.Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN on Tuesday that 70 to 85 percent of people need to be fully vaccinated for things to return to normal.Fauci’s statement comes as less than 2 percent of Americans have received both doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).CDC data also shows about 26.4 million people have received at least one dose.Fauci said the best thing for Americans to do is to prevent the virus from spreading and mutating.The way you stop those mutations: Get vaccinated and abide by the public health measures, Dr. Anthony Fauci, via CNN

President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser says between 70% and 85% of Americans must get vaccinated against the coronavirus before the nation can get back to normal.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN on Tuesday night he’s hopeful the country can get to that level by the end of the summer to the beginning of fall. So far, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 2% of Americans have received both doses of the COVID vaccine.

Biden’s administration announced Tuesday that it is moving to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines, freeing up more doses for states and beginning to distribute them to retail pharmacies next week. The push comes amid new urgency to speed vaccinations to prevent the spread of potentially more serious strains of the virus that has killed more than 446,000 Americans.

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Starting next week, 1 million doses will be distributed to some 6,500 pharmacies across the country, the White House said. The administration is also boosting by 500,000 the weekly allocation of vaccines sent directly to states and territories for the coming weeks, up to 10.5 million. It is allowing state and local governments to receive additional federal dollars to cover previously incurred expenses relating to the pandemic.

Coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients announced the moves on a call with the nation’s governors Tuesday morning and then detailed them to the public in an afternoon news conference.

Drugstores have become a mainstay for flu shots and shingles vaccines, and the industry is capable of vaccinating tens of millions of people monthly. “This will provide more sites for people to get vaccinated in their communities,” Zients said.

“This is a critical step to provide the public with convenient trusted places to get vaccinated in their communities,” he added.

The number of participating pharmacies and the allocation of vaccines are expected to accelerate as drug makers increase production. The White House said the ultimate goal was to distribute the vaccines through more than 40,000 pharmacies nationwide. State and local guidelines will determine who is eligible to get a shot at their neighborhood pharmacy. Availability will be limited at first.

Part of the reason the vaccination campaign got off to a slow start, he added, is that states lacked their own infrastructure for mass vaccinations.

ExploreFeds shipping vaccines to pharmacies next week

The partnership with drugstores was originally announced by the Trump administration in November. At that time, no coronavirus vaccines had been approved. Participating are major chains including CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid, big box stores such as Walmart and Costco, and supermarket pharmacies. CVS said it will receive 250,000 doses initially, to be distributed to pharmacies in 11 states.

The pharmacy doses will be distributed to states by population, but a priority will be to get the vaccine to minority communities that have suffered a disproportionately high toll of disease and deaths from the virus, Zients said.

He said the CDC was “making sure that we are picking pharmacies in that first phase that are located in areas that are harder to reach to ensure that we have equitable distribution of the pharmacy doses.” Walgreens said it was selected in part to “optimize vaccine access in medically underserved areas.”

The 1 million doses being shipped to pharmacies will be on top of the increased allotments to states over the coming three weeks. The Biden administration has sought to increase certainty to state governments on their upcoming allocations to streamline deliveries and prevent stockpiling of second doses for the two-dose regimens.

The U.S. government has already started working with vaccine manufacturers on potential booster shots to enhance protection against the variants.

Biden’s move to allow for an additional $3 billion to $5 billion in retroactive funding to state and local governments for reimbursement of pandemic-related spending was expected to free up more money for vaccine distribution.

“States will be fully repaid for things like masks, gloves and the mobilization of the National Guard, and they can use the additional resources for vaccination efforts and emergency supplies moving forward,” Zients said.

That is on top of additional assistance to state and local governments from the Federal Emergency Management Agency already authorized by the Biden administration for them to stand up and support vaccination sites across the country.

On Wednesday, drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline said it will work with a German biopharmaceutical company to develop new vaccines targeting emerging variants of COVID-19 amid concerns that some mutations are making the virus harder to combat.

GSK plans to invest $181 million to support the research of the Tubingen, Germany-based CureVac, which is developing vaccines that use messenger RNA to attack the disease. GSK also said it will help make up to 100 million doses of the company’s existing COVID-19 vaccine candidate this year.

“The increase in emerging variants with the potential to reduce the efficacy of first generation COVID-19 vaccines requires acceleration of efforts to develop vaccines against new variants to keep one step ahead of the pandemic,” the companies said in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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