US must vaccinate Americans and the rest of the world in order for pandemic to end: Surgeon general

Amid criticism from the World Health Organization and others that the U.S. should not offer booster shots to Americans while many countries lag in vaccine access, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy defended the Biden administration’s plans to begin rolling out booster shots for many Americans the week of Sept. 20.

“We have to protect American lives and we have to help vaccinate the world because that is the only way this pandemic ends,” Murthy told ABC “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz.

Murthy conceded that — assuming vaccine supply does not change — “taking more vaccines for Americans in the form of boosters will take away from the rest of the world,” but said the focus has been on increasing the supply and pointed to the U.S. donation of more than 120 million vaccine doses to other countries and its 500-million-dose commitment.

The Food and Drug Administration is pushing to issue full approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech’s two-dose COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, further expediting an earlier timeline for licensing the shot, according to the New York Times.

Murthy said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the FDA issues full approval of the Pfizer vaccine and that approval may convince some individuals on the fence about vaccination to get the shot.

The U.S. recorded its highest daily COVID-19 case count in nearly seven months on Friday, with just under 158,000 new cases reported.

Amid the surge, U.S. vaccination rates have also increased. White House COVID-19 data director Cyrus Shahpar said Saturday marked the third day in a row that the U.S. has administered more than 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. The White House announced on Friday that at least 200 million Americans have been vaccinated with at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.

This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

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