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Biden announces new vaccine mandates amid Covid-19 surge

US President Joe Biden has announced sweeping new vaccine requirements, which may affect about 100 million Americans, as part of a new action plan to curb the surging Covid-19 cases driven by the highly contagious Delta variant.

“While America is in much better shape than it was seven months ago when I took office, I need to tell you a second fact, we’re in the tough stretch and it could last for a while,” said Biden, speaking from the White House on Thursday.

The US President has put forward a six-point initiative to boost vaccinations, improve access to testing and make Covid-19 treatments more widely available, reported Xinhua news agency.

He blamed the remaining 25 per cent of eligible Americans, roughly 80 million people, who are not yet vaccinated, despite months of availability and incentives.

“We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” he said, adding this is “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

Biden’s latest push to combat the pandemic came as the Delta variant tears through communities across the country, causing upticks in hospitalisations and deaths particularly in areas where vaccination rates remain low.

As of Thursday, 53.4 per cent of the US population had been fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The country’s Covid-19 caseload was over 40.5 million with a death toll of more than 654,000 as of Thursday afternoon, according to the tally by Johns Hopkins University.