Joe Biden has said that all American adults will be eligible for a vaccine by 1 May.

In his first primetime address to the nation as US president, Mr Biden said his goal is to get the country “closer to normal” by 4 July, so Americans can celebrate Independence Day with their loved ones.

He also announced that 4,000 active troops will be deployed to support vaccination efforts – and medical students, midwives, veterinarians and dentists will be allowed to deliver jabs.

Almost 530,000 Americans have died from coronavirus over the past year – and millions more have fallen ill.

Speaking from the East Room of the White House, Mr Biden added: “We all lost something, a collective suffering, a collective sacrifice.”

In a speech that lasted roughly half an hour, the 46th president of the United States touched on many aspects of the pandemic.

He started by talking about how difficult the past year had been, but praised those who had looked for the positives, saying that “finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do”.

Mr Biden then spoke of how he keeps a note with him saying how many Americans have died with COVID.

He read out the latest figure – 527,726 deaths – and noted that it was greater than the fatalities the US suffered in the First and Second World Wars, the Vietnam War and 9/11 combined.

He also spoke of the hardships faced by Americans, but urged people not to let it divide them.

Calling out attacks that had been levelled against Asian Americans, Mr Biden said: “So many of them – our fellow Americans – are on the frontlines of this pandemic trying to save lives.

“And still – still – are forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America. It’s wrong, it’s un-American, and it must stop.”

Mr Biden talked of the successes in the vaccine rollout – 50 days after taking office.

He said: “When I came into office you may recall, I set a goal that many of you said was way over the top.

“I said I intended to get 100 million shots in people’s arms in my first 100 days in office.

“I can say we’re no longer going to meet that goal. We’re going to beat that goal – because we’re actually on track to reach this goal of 100 million shots in arms on my 60th day in office.”

Mr Biden also spoke about how the ramping up of the vaccination project in the US will allow for all adults to be eligible for a vaccine by 1 May.

“Let me be clear, that doesn’t mean everyone’s going to have that shot immediately, but it means you’ll be able to get in line beginning 1 May,” he said.

The president implored “every American to do their part” by getting vaccinated, and helping those they know to get a jab.

He said: “Because here’s the point – if we do all this, if we do our part, we do this together – by 4 July there’s a good chance you, your families and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighbourhood and have a cookout or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day.

“That doesn’t mean large events, with lots of people together, but it does mean small groups will be able to get together after this long, hard year.

“That will make this Independence Day something truly special, where we not only mark our independence as a nation, we begin to mark our independence from this virus.”

The president also spoke about the $1.9trn (£1.4trn) stimulus package he signed into law earlier the same day, and how it will financially help Americans.

As well as providing $1,400 (£1,000) support cheques to people, he said: “It extends unemployment benefits. It helps small businesses, it lowers healthcare premiums for many.

“It provides food and nutrition, keeps families in their homes, and it will cut child poverty in this country in half, according to the experts.

“And it funds all the steps I’ve just described to beat the virus and create millions of jobs in the coming weeks and months.”

Analysis: Donald Trump was ever-present but unmentioned over the shoulder of Joe Biden
By Alex Rossi, news correspondent

It was a name that only figured by omission – but in Joe Biden’s first primetime TV address, Donald Trump loomed large.

He was the elephant in the room, and the man that Mr Biden clearly blamed for the devastating scale of the pandemic.

But this was a speech big on solutions – it didn’t dwell so much on the mistakes that were made in the past.

This was a realistic appeal to Americans to do their bit as well as reassurance that the government had their backs when it came to the COVID response.

The way out of the COVID nightmare would put vaccines front and centre.

All adults to be offered a jab by the 1 May and the glittering prospect that small independence gatherings could go ahead by 4 July.

The response being offered by Mr Biden is extraordinary, but these are extraordinary times: more than half a million dead and the economy decimated.

The $1.9trn stimulus package is unprecedented in modern times.

What is interesting is that this speech, made about halfway through Biden’s first 100 days, shows the clear direction and strategy of this administration.

Joe Biden knows that his presidency and its success will depend on how well this response works. If it fails he could be in trouble; if it works, a massive windfall of political support could well come his way.

(c) Sky News 2021: COVID-19: All American adults will be eligible for a vaccine by 1 May, Biden says in first primetime address

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