JOE Biden has said Americans should wear face masks for at least the rest of the year despite a plan to vaccinate all adults by the summer.
The US has bought 200million more doses of Covid jabs, but experts warned mutant strains could scupper hopes of returning to normal in 2021.
The President was pictured wearing two face masks at the same time yesterday on a visit to the National Institutes of Health complex.
Biden said: "You know that wearing this mask through the next year here can save lives, a significant number of lives.
"Masking is the easiest thing to do to save lives. We need everyone to mask-up.
"And by the way, I know it's a pain in the neck, but it's a patriotic responsibility, we're in the middle of a war with this virus."
The President said he is on course to deliver on his promise to dish out 100million jabs in his first 100 days.
But he said the vaccination program is he inherited from Donald Trump was in "much worse shape" than he had expected and urged people to be patient.
The spread of the killer virus in the US to date, as of January 21, 2021
White House officials hope to offer all 209million adults in the US at least one dose by this summer.
Biden said yesterday he has purchased another 100million doses each of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to ensure everyone can get a second dose as well.
He also announced both companies had agreed to speed up production of existing orders, which should now arrive in May instead of June.
“We’ve now purchased enough vaccine supply to vaccinate all Americans,” the president said.
So far 46.3million jabs have been administered and 11.1million people have been fully vaccinated with two doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But health chiefs stressed that Covid measures such as masks and social distancing will have to remain in force until the US has established "herd immunity".
White House officials told the Daily Beast this might not be achieved until Thanksgiving at the current rate of vaccinations.
And this could be set back further if mutant strains of the virus emerge which are resistant to current jabs.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, has warned that the pace of vaccinations must increase in the developing world to stop the rise of new variants.
Yesterday he said he expects vaccine distribution to pick up drastically in March and it will likely be "open season" for anyone who wants to get a jab by April.
The positive vaccine news comes as the US continues to grapple with massive Covid case loads.
Although new case numbers have gone down after a massive spike following the holiday season, January was declared the deadliest month of the pandemic so far.
More than 95,000 people died in the US during January alone, a shocking number that trumped December's 77,486.
To date, more than 27.4million Americans have been diagnosed with Covid, and more than 473,000 have died.
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