President Biden visited the National Institutes of Health complex on Thursday and he spoke about the U.S. vaccine supply and his goals for the rollout, but he also indicated that mask-wearing will likely be a reality for the next year.
He told reporters that even though he was standing on stage about 10 feet from Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins, he would continue to wear his mask. He said that wearing the mask "though the next year" can save a significant number of lives.
Health officials have stressed that even with effective vaccines, many of the same safety protocols will have to remain in place until there is clear herd immunity. But if and when that is achieved seems to be anyone’s guess.
Sharon Peacock, the director of the COVID-19 Genomics UK consortium, said that there are growing concerns that virus mutations will slow the process.
"Once we get on top of (the virus) or it mutates itself out of being virulent—causing disease—then we can stop worrying about it. But I think, looking in the future, we’re going to be doing this for years. We’re still going to be doing this 10 years down the line in my view," she said, according to Reuters.
Biden said Thursday that the U.S. will have enough supply of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the summer to inoculate 300 million Americans.
The U.S. is on pace to exceed Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccine doses in his first 100 days in office, with more than 26 million shots delivered in his first three weeks.
"That’s just the floor," Biden said. "Our end goal is beating COVID-19."
The Associated Press contributed to this report