The White House admitted on Wednesday that it has no timetable for when the coronavirus will be conquered, and life might return to normal.
The comments by press secretary Jen Psaki come less than a day after President Biden said he hoped that normalcy might be reached by Christmas, the latest in a series of shifting timelines.
Scientists say the goal requires sufficient people to be vaccinated for the general population to reach herd immunity, but emerging coronavirus variants, uncertainties about the efficacy of vaccination, and anti-vaxxer movements provide extra challenges.
On Wednesday, Psaki bowed to the uncertainty.
“This is the question, as I’m sure is the case for all of you, that every neighbor, every friend, every family member asks, at least me, in the street when I’m walking my dog in the morning,” she said.
“We want to be straight with the American public though. We are not in a place where we can predict exactly when everybody will feel normal again.”
She said “vaccine hesitancy” was complicating the timing and that the population would need to continue social distancing and mask-wearing for “some time.”
“I think the president wants things to return to normal as we all do,” she added. “But we don’t know, at this point, what that timeline is going to look like.”
The question has symbolized the new administration’s efforts to get to grips with a pandemic that has killed almost 500,000 Americans.
Biden’s team has demonstrated a sense of urgency, with almost daily briefings, a joined-up national response, and huge purchases of vaccines. But at the same time, it has proved harder than expected to get vaccines into arms, and the effort has been complicated by the emergence of new virus strains.
Early in his presidency, Biden announced that the country would have sufficient stocks of vaccines for 300 million people by the end of the summer.
“It’ll be enough to fully vaccinate 300 [million] Americans to beat this pandemic,” he said in late January.
But since then, he has dropped that goal for beating the pandemic, as the White House and Biden pointed out that having vaccines manufactured and purchased is just one part of the process of getting shots into arms.
Recruiting retired doctors and nurses as well as military personnel as vaccinators would speed things up, Biden said at a CNN town hall on Tuesday night, as he suggested the end of the year was a more realistic goal for relaxing social distancing measures.
“As my mother would say, with the grace of God and the goodwill of the neighbors, that by next Christmas, I think we’ll be in a very different circumstance, God willing, than we are today,” he said. “A year from now, I think that there’ll be significantly fewer people having to be socially distanced, having to wear a mask.” Via – The Washington Examiner