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Biden administration touts vaccine milestone amid rising cases


By Betsy Klein, CNN

The White House touted a series of positive milestones for the administration’s pandemic response Tuesday as the nation experiences rising Covid-19 cases and concerns about the new Omicron variant.

It comes as the US is experiencing rising cases — the highest case count since September — with nearly 60,000 people currently hospitalized in the US and nearly 1,600 people dying every 24 hours. Scientists are also rushing to learn more in the coming days about the spreading Omicron variant. Multiple cases of the variant have been detected in the US after the Biden administration imposed travel restrictions on eight African countries last week.

“The best thing you can do if you are concerned about Omicron is to get boosted if you were fully vaccinated before June, get your kids vaccinated, get yourself vaccinated if you haven’t already, and encourage your friends and family members to do the same,” Zients said.

But there is some progress in critical efforts to stop the spread of the virus through vaccinations.

“Just in the last week, we’ve gotten 12.5 million total shots in arms. That’s the highest weekly total of number of shots since May,” White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said at Tuesday’s White House Covid-19 response team briefing.

“We’re now vaccinating people in numbers that we haven’t seen since the spring, and that’s critical progress as we head into the winter,” he added.

Zients, who was joined in the briefing by Biden medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, will also noted progress on booster shots.

“In the last week, we have gotten nearly 7 million people a booster. That’s million booster shots in arms a day, that’s more people are getting a booster shot per day than ever before,” he said.

And, Zients said, 5 million children ages 5 to 11 will have received at least their first shot as of Tuesday.

The efforts to boost vaccinations at home, where 71% of Americans have received at least their first shot and 60% are fully vaccinated, comes as the administration is also ramping up its efforts to share doses abroad.

Zients also announced the United States has shipped over 300 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to 110 countries across the globe as of Tuesday morning and is expected to have shipped 2 million more by the afternoon briefing, Zients will announce. That is more vaccine doses shipped abroad than all countries combined, per a White House official.

Since President Joe Biden announced administration efforts to boost vaccine manufacturing to increase the global supply in November, Zients said, nearly 20 million doses have shipped.

The US has pledged to donate to more than 1 billion Covid-19 vaccines to low- and lower-middle-income countries around the world to help end the pandemic. The President has also called on other world leaders to increase their vaccine donations to countries that need them the most to help end the pandemic.

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