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President Biden holds his first formal news conference as president in the East Room of the White House. Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters

President Joe Biden came to his first press conference eager to talk about COVID-19, but was instead repeatedly asked about other growing crises.

The big picture: Biden opened with a prepared statement pledging to provide 200 million vaccines in his first 100 days, doubling his previous goals.

  • He then found himself answering multiple questions on the border, hinting that he may be willing to end the filibuster and giving every indication that he plans to run for re-election.
  • He essentially pleaded for time to fix a border situation that he said President Trump left in tatters.
Expand chart
Note: Because of reporting delays in CDC data, the real counts only go through March 19, 2021; Data: CDC; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Highlights from Biden, via Axios' Zachary Basu:

  1. Rejected the notion that the surge in migrants at the U.S. border is because he's a "nice guy" who is soft on immigration, insisting it "happens every year."
  2. Tore into Republican efforts to restrict voting in states like Georgia, calling it "pernicious," "un-American" and "sick."
  3. Called Chinese President Xi Jinping a "smart, smart guy" who "doesn't have a democratic bone in his body."
  4. Said it's his "plan" to run for re-election and that he "fully expects" Vice President Harris to be his running mate.
  5. Acknowledged that it would be "hard" to meet the May 1 deadline that the Trump administration negotiated with the Taliban to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

Go deeper.

Go deeper

Coronavirus cases rise in 19 states

Expand chart
Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New coronavirus infections rose over the past week in 19 states while holding steady nationwide.

The big picture: The U.S. is in a race to vaccinate as many Americans as possible before variants of COVID-19, fueled by quick reopening, can cause a new wave of rising caseloads.

Mar 25, 2021 - Health

AstraZeneca issues new Phase 3 data for COVID vaccine, confirming safety and efficacy

Photo: WPA Pool / Getty Images

AstraZeneca said Wednesday that a primary analysis of its Phase 3 trial data confirmed its coronavirus vaccine's "safety" with a 76% efficacy rate against symptomatic COVID.

Flashback: The company reported on Monday that a U.S. trial found its vaccine 79% effective, but faced backlash after NIAID said Tuesday it may have included information that provided an "incomplete view of the efficacy data" in its U.S. results.

Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
Mar 25, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Former Bush official argues that Iowa schools were right to reopen early

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Iowa students will be better off academically and health-wise compared to schools that are still partially shut down, argues John Bailey, former deputy policy director at the Commerce Department under George W. Bush.

Why it matters: Schools nationwide will have to grapple with learning losses next fall, but Bailey contends it won't feel as severe for states that opened earlier.