United States President Joe Biden speaks about the manufacture of the Covid-19 vaccine in the South Court Auditorium next to the White House in Washington, DC on March 10, 2021.

Almond Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden said he would announce the “next phase” of the US Covid-19 response during his prime-time address to Americans on Thursday.

“Tomorrow night, I’ll be addressing the American people in prime time and talking about what we’ve been through as a nation over the past year. But more importantly, I’ll talk about what’s next,” Biden told the White on Wednesday House after meeting executives from Johnson & Johnson and Merck.

“I will be taking the next phase of the Covid response and explaining what we are doing as a government and what we are going to ask of the American people,” he said. “There is light at the end of this dark tunnel last year. We cannot disappoint our watch now or assume that victory is inevitable. Together we will overcome this pandemic and usher in a healthier, more hopeful future.”

The president’s address will commemorate the one-year anniversary that marks the first government-imposed shutdowns to contain the pandemic.

The Biden government has been working to increase supplies of Covid-19 vaccines and immunize the majority of Americans as soon as possible. Around 62.4 million out of around 331 million Americans have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And 32.9 million are fully vaccinated, which is nearly 10% of the total US adult population, according to the CDC.

On Wednesday, the Biden government announced that it plans to purchase an additional 100 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from J&J. The deal would double the country’s supply of the J&J vaccine as the company has already signed a deal with the government to provide 100 million doses by the end of June. Merck Helps Manufacture J & J.’s Covid Vaccine

The government has also signed deals with drug makers Pfizer and Moderna for 600 million doses, which is enough to vaccinate 300 million Americans, since these two vaccines require two shots three to four weeks apart.

“I’m doing this because we need maximum flexibility in this war effort,” Biden said on Wednesday of plans to buy more J&J vaccine doses. “There is always the possibility that we will encounter unexpected challenges, or there is a new need for vaccinations … a lot can happen, a lot can change and we need to be prepared.”

Biden said if the US has an excess of vaccine doses, the government will “share it with the rest of the world.”

“This cannot be stopped by a fence, no matter how high you build a fence or wall,” he said. “So in the end we won’t be safe until the world is safe. So we will first make sure that the Americans are taken care of first, but then we will try to help the rest of the world.”

The comments come weeks after Biden said the US would try to end cancer, the second leading cause of death in the US, once the pandemic is over.

One of Biden’s sons, Beau Biden, died of an aggressive form of brain tumor at the age of 46.