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President Biden in the Oval Office of the White House on Feb. 11. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The federal government purchased an additional 200 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, President Biden announced Thursday during a tour of the National Institutes of Health.

The big picture: Biden said the U.S. is on track to have enough supply of the vaccine to inoculate 300 million Americans by the end of July. That comes out to roughly 600 million doses, boosting "supply in the United States by 50 percent," as first reported by the Washington Post.

Context: The Biden administration said last month that it planned to buy an additional 100 million doses each of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

What they're saying: "We need more people to get vaccinated to beat this pandemic," Biden said Thursday.

  • "We've now purchased enough vaccine supply to vaccinate all Americans, and now we're working to get those vaccines into the arms of people," Biden said after he toured the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the NIH complex that developed the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Moderna.
  • "The new strains emerging create immense challenges, and masking is still the easiest thing to do to save lives," the president added.
  • “As the President directed, we are expanding our supply of COVID vaccines to protect people as quickly as possible,” acting Health and Human Services Secretary Norris Cochran said in a statement.

Of note: It's unlikely the purchase will make the vaccine widely available sooner than originally planned, but it may prevent shortages later this year, per the Post.

Zoom out: The Biden administration announced last week that the first federal mass vaccination sites will open in Oakland and Los Angeles later this month.

Go deeper

Jill Biden, Doug Emhoff host series of calls with nurses unions

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

First lady Dr. Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff on Wednesday held a series of phone calls with nurses unions throughout the country to hear about their experiences during the coronavirus pandemic, the New York Times reports.

What they're saying: Biden and Emhoff told the nurses, who the CDC says are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, that "this administration is fighting for them," according to a spokesperson. But most of their time was spent listening to the nurses' pleas for more protective gear and vaccine doses.

Coronavirus infections are plummeting

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New coronavirus cases continued their sharp decline over the past week — progress that could help the U.S. find its way out of the pandemic faster and more safely, if it keeps up.

The big picture: Getting the virus' spread under control is the key to saving lives and reopening schools and businesses. And the tools to achieve that — masks, social distancing and vaccines — are also the most effective weapons against the more contagious variants that could threaten the U.S.' progress.

Feb 11, 2021 - Health

Experts say school closures are hurting teens' mental health

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

School districts and mental health professionals remain concerned about the pandemic's effect on children's mental health.

The big picture: Hospitals have seen a significant increase in mental health emergencies among children, and federal officials have acknowledged that prolonged school closures have deprived students of both formal services and simple human interaction.