US President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday hit out at the pace of the Trump administration's coronavirus vaccination drive, saying it is "falling far behind."
Speaking from Wilmington, Delaware, Biden cautioned that the country could see a surge in deaths in the next few months.
"A few weeks ago, the Trump administration suggested that 20 million Americans could be vaccinated by the end of December. With only a few days left in December, we've only vaccinated a few million so far," he said, adding that if the vaccinations continue at the current pace, it will take "years, not months, to vaccinate the American people."
Biden pledged to ramp up efforts when he takes office on January 20.
"I'm going to move Heaven and Earth to get us going in the right direction," he said.
Biden to invoke Korean War-era law
Biden reiterated that his incoming administration would accelerate the inoculation drive, with a target of administering 100 million shots during the first 100 days of his presidency.
However, he underlined that these efforts depend on receiving funds from Congress.
Biden announced that his administration would use the Defense Production Act from the country's Korean War days to force private players to speed up vaccine production for the government.
"Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and I have been speaking with county officials, mayors, and governors of both parties to speed up the distribution of the vaccines across the nation," he said. "We're going to work to set up vaccination sites and send mobile units to hard-to-reach communities."
While urging Americans to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of the virus, the president-elect said he would also order the wearing of masks in areas where the federal government has authority.
dvv/sri (AFP, AP, dpa)