US President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered states to begin vaccinating all adults against HIV/AIDS by 1 May, so that by Independence Day, 4 July, “there is a good chance” that families will be able to reunite.

Biden made the announcement during his first prime-time address to the nation from the White House, coinciding with the first anniversary of the travel ban in much of the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“After this long, hard year, this will make Independence Day something truly special where we not only mark our independence as a nation, but we begin to mark our independence from this virus,” the president said of his intention to reach the 4th of July in a better position thanks to vaccination, although he pointed out that “the fight is far from over”.

Biden also announced during his speech that his administration is on track to meet its commitment to administer 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the first 60 days of his term, when the goal was to do so in 100 days, as he assumed when he took office. “We are on track to reach the target of 100 million injections on my 60th day in office. No other country has done this,” he said.

Regarding inoculation, he said that “by the time all adults are eligible (for vaccination) in May”, the administration will launch “new tools” to access information on where to get vaccinated, including a new website.

“Finding light in the darkness is a very American thing,” he said, appealing for hope after the first year since the coronavirus “hit” the country and “met with silence and spread unchecked”.

The US president recalled that the country experienced “denials for days, weeks and then months”. “That led to more deaths, more contagions, more stress and more loneliness,” he lamented, while noting that it was a period of “collective” suffering and sacrifice.

The leader went on to say that the total number of deaths caused by the pandemic in the country, more than 527,000 people, is already more than “in the First World War, the Second World War, the Vietnam War and September 11 combined”.

“They are husbands, wives, sons and daughters, grandparents and friends, neighbours, young and old,” he said, stressing that his thoughts are with those who have died and appealing to the importance of the “details” of life.

On the other hand, Biden used his speech to condemn those who have used the pandemic for hatred “instead of working with each other”. In particular, he referred to hate crimes against Asian-Americans who, in his words, “have been targeted, harassed, blamed and scapegoated”, to which he demanded that the hatred “must stop”.

“We’ve lost faith in whether our government and our democracy can deliver on really difficult things for the American people,” he also acknowledged.

In this sense, he called for “national unity”. “After all we’ve been through, we will come together as a people (…). We will emerge stronger, with renewed faith in ourselves”.

In his speech, Biden also called on the American people to help him achieve his goals: “I need all Americans to do their part”.

Biden urged Americans to get vaccinated when it’s their turn because “if we all do this”, “by the 4th of July there’s a good chance that you and your friends and family can gather in your backyard or in your neighbourhood to celebrate”.

In this regard, the president made clear that, however, “things can get worse as new variants of the virus spread”. “The 4th of July is the goal, but with goals, a lot can happen (…). Conditions can change,” he warned.

Next steps

In addition to ensuring that adult immunisation begins before early May and predicting a near-normal approach by 4 July, the Biden Administration has outlined other steps in its national pandemic strategy.

According to the White House, the number of places where Americans can receive the immuniser will be increased to reach the hardest-hit and hard-to-reach populations.

The number of people involved in the vaccination process will also be increased, with the deployment of a total of 6,000 troops and an expansion of the number of professionals trained to give the injection.

Further steps will also be taken to reopen schools, with the issuance of Rescue Plan funds for the adaptation of schools to coronavirus containment measures. In addition, it will expand school-based testing, support school staff in vaccination, and provide counselling to educational settings, among others.

The US will also continue efforts to combat new variants and spread in any space by further testing and strengthening the identification of new variants.

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