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President Biden after visiting the Pfizer vaccine plant in Kalamazoo, Mich., last week. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden is promising COVID-19 vaccines will be available to all Americans by the end of July — and a Quinnipiac poll finds three-quarters of Americans expect him to pull it off.  If he fails, the coronavirus could start to haunt the new president just like it did his predecessor.

Why it matters: Biden’s presidency is built on the notion of restoring competence — and confidence — in government. So, he'll need the huge infusion of cash from his virus relief bill — and heroics by drugmakers and distributors — to carry out mass vaccinations.

  • He'll need to hit or near this mark if America is truly going to return to normal for the fall school season. 
  • And he'll need to hit or near this mark to make good on his belief that life will return to "approaching normalcy" by Christmas.

Here's the big asterisk: Administration officials say the U.S. will have enough vaccine (600 million doses) to give everyone two shots by July 29. But they know not everyone will take it.

  • "[T]he reluctant and the hesitant will drag this out all fall," a top official tells me.
  • That's partly because of the historically rooted suspicion of vaccines among minorities, and many largely poor or isolated populations.

Here are things that could prevent Biden from hitting his goals:

  • Resistance from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
  • A violent new wave and strain of the virus. This could result from people getting sick of COVID isolation, and dropping their guard with the advent of warm weather.
  • An inability or reluctance of some states to find the right balance of COVID restrictions.
  • A foreign policy crisis that occupies Biden and his team.
  • Conservative media hammering his efforts on a nightly basis, adding to the vaccine reluctance and suspicion of Democratic plans.
  • The economy fails to grow, and the stock market stutters and slumps.
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Go deeper

Updated Feb 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Trump to speak at CPAC next week

Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Former President Trump will speak at next week's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) conference in Florida, his first public appearance since leaving office, a source with direct knowledge tells Axios.

What we're hearing: Trump plans to directly attack President Biden's new immigration plan and will talk about the future of the Republican Party, a source familiar with his speech said.

Feb 21, 2021 - World

America's vaccine rollout has been among the best in the world

Expand chart

America’s much-maligned vaccine rollout is actually going relatively well, at least compared to other wealthy countries.

The big picture: The U.S. has carried out more vaccinations than any country in the world, and given a first dose to a higher percentage of its population (12%) than all but five countries: Israel, the Seychelles, the UAE, the U.K. and Bahrain.

1 hour ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.