Covid: Joe Biden reveals £1.4 trillion plan to tackle the virus including '100 million vaccines in 100 days'

Joe Biden. Credit: AP/Press Association Images

Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion (£1.4 trillion) plan to tackle coronavirus involves administering 100 million vaccines in 100 days and boosting financial help to those impacted by Covid-19’s economic fallout.

The US President-elect announced his "American Rescue Plan" in a bid to end a "crisis of deep human suffering".

“We not only have an economic imperative to act now — I believe we have a moral obligation,” Mr Biden said in a nationwide address. At the same time, he acknowledged that his plan “does not come cheaply”.

What key goals are set out in the plan?

  • Administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of Biden's administration

  • Reopening most schools by the spring

  • Providing $1,400 checks for most Americans (on top of $600 provided in the most recent Covid-19 bill) 

  • Extending a temporary boost in unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through September

The plan also shoehorns in long-term Democratic policy aims such as increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding paid leave for workers, and increasing tax credits for families with children.

The last item would make it easier for women to go back to work, which in turn would help the economy recover.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer praised Biden for including liberal priorities, saying they would move quickly to pass it after he takes office next Wednesday.

However, Democrats have narrow margins in both chambers of Congress, and Republicans will push back on issues that range from increasing the minimum wage to providing more money for states, while demanding inclusion of their priorities, such as liability protection for businesses.

“The crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight, and there’s not time to waste,” Mr Biden said. “We have to act and we have to act now."

“We’re better equipped to do this than any nation in the world. But even with all these small steps, it’s going to take time.”

His relief bill would be paid for with borrowed money, adding to trillions of debt the government has already incurred to confront the pandemic.

US president-elect Joe Biden has said he hopes to return the US to the deal Credit: Susan Walsh/AP

Aides said Biden will make the case that the additional spending and borrowing is necessary to prevent the economy from sliding into an even deeper hole.

The plan comes as a divided nation is in the grip of the pandemic’s most dangerous wave yet. So far, more than 385,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the US.

Government numbers on Thursday also reported a jump in weekly unemployment claims to 965,000, a sign that rising infections are forcing businesses to cut back and lay off workers.

The pace of vaccination in the US is approaching a million shots a day, but 1.8 million would be needed to reach widespread or “herd” immunity by the summer, according to a recent estimate by the American Hospital Association.