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Biden marks pandemic anniversary with first prime-time speech



US President Joe Biden delivered his first prime-time address on Thursday to commemorate one year since the pandemic began shutting down much of the nation’s public life.

He would discuss the many sacrifices the American people have made over the last year and the grave loss communities and families across the country had suffered.

Biden, who has been in office nearly two months, made it his top priority to accelerate the federal response to the nation’s coronavirus crisis, which had killed almost 530,000 people.

Infections have been slowly declining, although the average daily new case count remains high at around 60,000.

Thousands are still dying every week and there were worries a fresh surge could yet be ahead because of new, more transmissible variants in circulation.

The vaccination drive has been swiftly ramping up. As of Wednesday, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said about 62.5 million people had received at least one dose of the three COVID-19vaccines in use in the US, a nation of nearly 330 million.

Two doses, generally given two weeks apart, are required to achieve the best protection from COVID-19.

Biden said earlier this month that the US should have enough coronavirus vaccine doses for every adult American by the end of May.

Meanwhile Biden scored a major legislative victory on Wednesday after a 1.9-trillion-dollar relief package for the pandemic-rocked economy passed the last hurdle in the Democratic-controlled Congress.

It also includes a sweeping expansion of the country’s social safety net. The president is expected to soon sign it into law.

Cecilia Odey

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