Joe Biden

Joe Biden’s pandemic timeline gamble — Meanwhile in America

Biden is taking a gamble; setting dates against which you can be judged is always risky in politics. He is sure to face a backlash if vaccination delays nix his timelines. The pandemic has long busted expectations and its murderous hold on the world, with the help of new viral mutations, means no one can really know when it will end. And the White House’s plan to set up a national vaccination booking website has some Democrats shuddering, as they remember the glitchy portal that hampered the rollout of Obamacare.

But Biden may not be as far out on a limb as he appears. His pandemic strategy has been noticeably un-Trumpian as he underpromises and over delivers. With more than two million jabs going into arms a day, he’s easily going to blow past his call to inject 100 million doses in his first 100 days. At least 69 million Americans have already had one dose of vaccine and more than 37 million are fully vaccinated. Many states may have already expanded the eligibility for vaccines themselves by May 1.

That would make Biden’s pledge, delivered in his primetime address on Thursday night, a neat line that makes him look good for little cost. After many years in the White House and Congress, the President understands that nothing gets the creaky machinery of the federal government moving like a public order from the commander-in-chief, so setting symbolic deadlines might force the race to vaccinate to step up a gear.

After so many months of bad news, it’s quite something to see the giddiness of people who have already got their shots in a new season of hope. If everything goes well, the long-awaited light at the end of the tunnel might just be the fireworks bursting in air on America’s birthday.

‘We are sharing what we have with them. They should be sharing with us’

The US has accepted 24 countries’ offers to vaccinate American diplomats stationed there — but has no plans to offer vaccines to foreign diplomats on its own soil, reports CNN’s Kylie Atwood. “It is incredibly frustrating,” said a senior European diplomat in Washington. “We are sharing what we have with them. They should be sharing with us. Vaccines are going to get diplomacy up and running, we need to be vaccinated.” Politico first reported on the diplomats’ growing frustration.

Postcard from Jerusalem

My family and I just moved from London to Jerusalem, where I’m taking on a new role as correspondent here. It would be a big move even pre-pandemic. But during Covid-19, the differences between the two cities are stark.

When we left London toward the end of February, it was a city still under strict lockdown — nearly everything from schools to restaurants were closed. Even meeting up with friends at a park was technically banned. Then we arrived in Israel, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world — and where nearly everything has opened back up (with capacity limits) for those with a “green pass,” a certificate that shows vaccination or recovery from Covid-19.

As newcomers, we still had to quarantine, but once that ended, it felt like we were in a normal city. Restaurants are busy, people out shopping, kids going to school. Bars and eateries at the city’s famous Mahane Yehuda market have been packed with diners and drinkers — finally enjoying a nightlife scene that’s been shut down for months. If it weren’t for the face masks and many ‘for rent’ signs in empty storefronts, you’d almost think there was no such thing as coronavirus.

Getting a vaccine here is easy, to the point that some people seem offended at the question, saying ‘Yes of course I got my second dose more than a month ago!’ For meetings, people expect me to come see them in person. It’s honestly still a little unnerving. It feels like we’ve not only physically moved, but also moved forward in time — to the future that awaits cities and countries around the world as more and more people get vaccinated. Hopefully. — CNN’s Hadas Gold writes from Jerusalem

‘That all countries are free to make their own political choices, free of coercion’

Biden on Saturday joined a rare op-ed penned with fellow “Quad” leaders from India, Australia and Japan. “Over the course of these past months, each of us has grieved the suffering that our people and the world have endured. But in this dark hour, our partnership offers a spark of hope to light the path ahead,” they wrote in the Washington Post. The alliance said it is trying to “ensure that the Indo-Pacific is accessible and dynamic, governed by international law and bedrock principles such as freedom of navigation and peaceful resolution of disputes, and that all countries are able to make their own political choices, free from coercion.”

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