During remarks at the National Institutes of Health, Biden cautioned of a potential case rate increase due to the colder weather and perhaps more transmissible Omicron variant.
The United States has become increasingly defensive internationally after the discovery of the Omicron variant out of South Africa.
“My plan I am announcing today pulls no punches in the fight against COVID-19, and it’s a plan I think should unite us,” he said. "This is a moment we can put the divisiveness behind us — I hope."
Biden mentioned polling proposing 3 in 10 people who were once adamant they would not receive a COVID vaccine "under any circumstances" had changed their mind because of the Omicron variant. "I hope that's true," he said.
Biden urged vaccinated people to schedule their COVID booster shot appointments, saying his Administration would liaise with Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson about developing "contingency" jabs for the Omicron variant.
"More than about 100 million are eligible for boosters but haven't gotten the booster shot yet," the president said. "Folks, if you're over the age of 18 and you got vaccinated before June the 2nd, six months has gone by. Go get your booster now."
Biden's tactic includes a deal with private health insurance companies to cover at-home COVID tests starting next month. Uninsured people will have access to free tests "at thousands of convenient locations," according to Biden.
The winter plan includes an international component after the Omicron variant was first discovered in South Africa, such as compelling international travelers to take a COVID test within one day of their departure from overseas. Biden said his Administration would send another 200 million vaccines abroad in the next 100 days, bringing his mixed pledge to 1.25 billion shots.
Biden was briefed by NIH's Director and Deputy Director, Drs. Francis Collins and Lawrence Tabak, before his COVID address. He was followed by his response team, including Fauci. Biden praised Fauci, the country's top infectious disease specialist, at the beginning of his speech.
“I’ve seen Dr. Fauci more than I’ve seen my wife," he said. "Who’s president? Fauci. But all kidding aside, I sincerely mean it.”