Biden’s goal would grow vaccination rates just 11 percent

So far, the Biden administration has given unpersuasive explanations for its limited goal.

The president himself responded to questions about his goal being too low on Thursday with frustration: “When I announced it, you all said it’s not possible. Come on. Give me a break, man. It’s a good start.”

It’s true some reporters questioned the goal when it came out. But circumstances change. It’s pretty clear now that 1 million a day is possible — and the US, in fact, was already almost there before Biden took office.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki provided a more detailed response at a briefing, arguing the Trump administration only managed to achieve half of Biden’s goal — about 500,000 shots a day — since the US’s vaccine rollout began in December. But that includes a period in which vaccinations were first getting started and going very slowly. The current average, over the past week, is more than 900,000 per day.

Psaki, as well as chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci, continued to call the goal “ambitious.” But growing current vaccination rates by 11 percent over more than three months isn’t particularly ambitious. Based on the past week’s trends, that likely would have happened regardless of the person in the Oval Office.

Perhaps the Biden administration is scared to overpromise, especially after Trump’s team clearly did when they promised 20 million vaccinations and 40 million doses in 2020 — a goal that the country still hasn’t hit three weeks into 2021.

But that shouldn’t mean settling for a prolonged outbreak that kills potentially hundreds of thousands of Americans.

Covid-19 is America’s — and the world’s — most pressing crisis. Biden has promised to get us out of it. To really do that, he should go bolder.

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Update: Clarified the timeline for herd immunity based on different vaccination rates.

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