He’s known for setting the bar low with his pandemic goals in order to make it easy to clear. Who could forget his “100 million shots in 100 days” target before he took office, a pace which we had already basically reached by the time he was sworn in?
This target seems more ambitious. By his calculations, we could partially vaccinate 70 percent of adults by delivering 100 million more shots in the next 60 days. That shakes out to 1.67 million doses per day. Right now we’re averaging 2.3 million a day but that number has declined steadily since the Johnson & Johnson pause in mid-April. We were at 3.3 million doses daily just three weeks ago; if we lose another million doses per day over the same period, we’ll be below Biden’s pace before the end of the month.
He’s also hoping to see another 55 million Americans fully vaccinated by Independence Day. Right now 147 million have had their first dose versus 105 million who are fully vaccinated. Presumably most of the 42 million people who’ve only had one shot so far will show up for their second dose this month, which makes 55 million doable by the 4th provided that demand doesn’t completely collapse. If we make it to 70 percent partially vaccinated by then, one would think we’ll hit 55 million more fully vaccinated too.
President Biden: "Our goal by July 4th is to have 70% of adults Americans with at least one shot and 160 million Americans fully vaccinated."
— CSPAN (@cspan) May 4, 2021
If we do hit the target, does that mean we get to have those small backyard cookouts on Independence Day he promised awhile back, which, uh, everyone’s already been having for the past year?
There are two pieces of good news that might drive the daily dose numbers up again. One is that kids aged 12-15 will soon be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, opening up a new source of demand. (Although not one that’ll affect the share of vaccinated adults, of course.) The other is that the White House is wisely and finally moving away from apportioning vaccines equally among the states and redirecting supply to where demand is greater:
Biden’s speech comes as the White House announced a shift away from a strict by-population allocation of vaccines. The administration says that when states decline the vaccine they have been allocated, that surplus will shift to states still awaiting doses to meet demand. Those states would have the shots available whenever demand for vaccines in their states increases — a key priority of the Biden administration.
Governors were informed of the change by the White House Tuesday morning. The Washington Post first reported on the new allocation.
This week, Iowa turned down nearly three quarters of the vaccine doses available to the state for next week from the federal government because demand for the shots remains weak.
The upshot of that decision, I’d guess, is that many blue states will be past the pandemic months before red states are, as vaccine uptake is higher there. Although even blue states aren’t immune from slackening demand: In NYC last week, the number of people who got their first dose was down 67 percent from the number that got a first dose between April 4-10. Not coincidentally, that was also the last full week before the J&J pause was ordered, which appears to have slowed demand for Pfizer and Moderna and crushed it utterly for J&J:
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) May 3, 2021
— Jesse Rodriguez (@JesseRodriguez) May 4, 2021
Might as well just ship whatever remaining Johnson & Johnson supply we have to India. The FDA obviously killed it here.
With demand falling off, government officials have begun brainstorming creative new ways to get vaccine holdouts interested again. Here’s one:
NEW: We’re launching our “Shot and a Beer” program to encourage eligible New Jerseyans ages 21+ to get vaccinated.
Any New Jerseyan who gets their first vaccine dose in the month of May and takes their vaccination card to a participating brewery will receive a free beer. 🍻 pic.twitter.com/REiHTEa6mi
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) May 3, 2021
Another possibility is paying people, as West Virginia has done by promising younger adults a $100 savings bond if they get the shot. That feels unfair inasmuch as holdouts would benefit materially for having refused to do something for their community that others volunteered to do, but anything that increases uptake is probably worth it. The Times published data today showing that 34 percent of holdouts say they’d be more likely to get the shot if they were offered $100. (Which is not the same as saying that they definitely *would* get the shot.) Fifty-three percent of Republican holdouts also said they’d be likely to get the shot if they knew they wouldn’t have to wear a mask afterward versus just 35 percent who said they’d be likely if they still had to wear a mask, evidence that the CDC should be more aggressive in relaxing post-vax rules in order to encourage vaccination.
But I continue to doubt that any behavioral incentive will move the holdouts much at this point, for a simple reason. As noted previously, the unvaccinated are already getting back to normal — more so than even vaccinated people are, in fact. New from the Times:
Congrats to unvaccinated people on being the first group to be done with the pandemic, I guess.
I’ll leave you with Biden trying and badly failing to state the URL for the government’s online vax clearinghouse, vaccine.gov.
Joe Biden repeatedly confuses vaccine website: "Vaccine.gum" pic.twitter.com/dPEupf3AdE
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) May 4, 2021