The U.S. will start shipping coronavirus vaccines to retail pharmacies next week, making the shot much more accessible to many around the country. The Biden administration also said it is increasing the weekly vaccine allocation for states, tribes and territories by 5%, as public health experts urge speeding up vaccination as the best defense against fast-spreading variants. Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said 70 to 85% of the U.S. population should be fully vaccinated before the country can return to a sense of normalcy. Less than 2% of the population has been vaccinated so far.
In related news, preliminary data from a new study show a single dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine could cut transmission of the coronavirus by 67% and offer protection from the virus with up to 76% effectiveness for as long as 12 weeks. The findings support the strategy that some countries have employed of spacing out vaccine doses to get more people rapidly inoculated.
On Capitol Hill, Democrats are moving forward with President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, voting Tuesday to kickstart the budget reconciliation process, which would not require any Republican support to pass the legislation.