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A woman receives a COVID-19 vaccine outside the Karsh Family Social Service Center, in Los Angeles, Calif., on March 18, 2021.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

The United States on Friday cleared Joe Biden’s goal of administering 100 million coronavirus vaccine injections, more than a month before the target date of his 100th day in office, as the President prepared to set his sights higher in the nationwide vaccination effort.

With the U.S. administering about 2.5 million shots a day, Mr. Biden, who promised to set a new goal for vaccinations next week, teased the possibility of setting a 200-million-dose goal by his 100th day in office.

“We may be able to double it,” he told reporters before leaving the White House for Atlanta. His comments come as the U.S. is on pace to have enough of the three currently authorized vaccines to cover the entire adult population just 10 weeks from now.

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As the pace of vaccinations and supply improves, the White House said the country is now in position to help supply neighbours Canada and Mexico with millions of life-saving shots.

The Biden administration on Thursday revealed the outlines of a plan to “loan” a limited number of vaccines to Canada and Mexico as the President announced the U.S. was on the cusp of meeting his 100-day injection goal “way ahead” of schedule.

Coronavirus co-ordinator Jeff Zients said Friday that 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine would be sent to Canada and 2.5 million would go to Mexico. He emphasized that because the AstraZeneca shot is not yet authorized in the U.S., “This loan will not reduce the supply of vaccine to Americans.”

“Our first priority remains vaccinating the U.S. population,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday. But she added that “ensuring our neighbours can contain the virus is a mission-critical step, is mission critical to ending the pandemic.”

Though not yet authorized for use in the U.S., the AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved by the World Health Organization. Tens of millions of doses have been stockpiled in the United States, waiting for emergency-use authorization, and that has sparked an international outcry that life-saving vaccine is being withheld when it could be used elsewhere. The White House said just seven million of the AstraZeneca doses are ready for shipment.

The initial run of doses manufactured in the U.S. are owned by the federal government under the terms of agreements reached with drugmakers, and the Biden administration has faced calls from allies across the globe to release the AstraZeneca shots for immediate use.

Mr. Biden has also fielded direct requests from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to buy vaccines produced in the United States.

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Global public-health advocates say wealthy countries need to do far more to help stem the spread of the pandemic. The World Health Organization on Thursday issued a report that fewer than seven million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Africa thus far. That’s the equivalent of what the U.S. administers in a matter of days.

Mr. Biden did move to have the U.S. contribute financially to the COVAX alliance, backed by non-governmental organizations such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, along with the World Health Organization and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. They will share vaccines with more than 90 lower- and middle-income countries.

From his first days in office, Mr. Biden has set clear – and achievable – metrics for U.S. success, whether they be vaccinations or school reopenings, as part of an apparent strategy of underpromising, then overdelivering. Aides say that exceeding his goals breeds trust in government after the Trump administration’s sometimes-fanciful rhetoric on the virus.

The 100-million-dose goal was first announced on Dec. 8, days before the U.S. had even one authorized vaccine for COVID-19, let alone the three that have now received emergency authorization. Still, it was generally seen within reach, if optimistic.

By the time Mr. Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20, the U.S. had already administered 20 million shots at a rate of about one million a day, bringing complaints at the time that Mr. Biden’s goal was not ambitious enough. He quickly revised it upward to 150 million doses in his first 100 days.

Now the U.S. is injecting an average of about 2.5 million doses each day – and the pace is likely to dramatically rise later this month in conjunction with an expected surge in supply of the vaccines – putting a 200-million-dose goal well within reach.

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The President has moved to speed up deliveries of vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, as well as to expand the number of places to get shots and people who can administer them, with a focus on increasing the capacity to inject doses as supply constraints lift.

The risk in setting overly rosy expectations is that an administration might become defined by its failure to meet them, such as in May, 2020, when former president Donald Trump said the country had “prevailed” over the virus.

At the time, the country had seen about 80,000 deaths from COVID-19. This week, the U.S. death toll topped 538,000. Mr. Trump’s lax approach and lack of credibility also contributed to poor adherence to public safety rules among the American public.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadians are looking forward to the day when non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border can "eventually" resume. But he says that discussion is not for today, and that people on both sides of the border will have to keep waiting patiently for the COVID-19 pandemic to abate. The Canadian Press

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