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North Korea says inter-Korean summit will be a ‘new milestone’

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sign documents at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018.

Korea Summit Press | Reuters

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sign documents at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018.

North Korea’s state news agency said on Saturday the inter-Korean summit a day earlier will be a “new milestone” in bringing about joint prosperity and a turning point for the Korean Peninsula.

The North’s central news agency separately released the joint statement North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced on Friday after the first summit in more than a decade between the two Koreas.

Kim and Moon had pledged to work for “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula and agreed on a common goal of a “nuclear-free” peninsula.

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Biden heads into inauguration with a stock market tailwind

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Biden heads into inauguration with a stock market tailwind

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Biden to deploy FEMA, National Guard to set up Covid vaccine clinics across the U.S.

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Spc. Katherine Deskins (L) of the Nevada Army National Guard administers a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination to Clark County Fire Department Capt. Jasmine Ghazinour on the first day of Clark County’s pilot vaccination program at Cashman Center on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ethan Miller | Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden plans to use FEMA and the National Guard to build coronavirus vaccine clinics across the United States, according to new details of his Covid-19 vaccination plan released by his transition team on Friday.

The Biden administration will also “quickly jumpstart” efforts to make the vaccines available at local pharmacies across the U.S., which should ensure that Americans have access to doses at facilities only miles from their home, according to the plan. 

“Here’s the deal: The more people we vaccinate, the faster we do it, the sooner we can save lives and put this pandemic behind us and get back to our lives and loved ones,” Biden said at a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, Thursday night. “We won’t get out of it overnight and we can’t do it as a separated nation.”

Drug store chains and pharmacies were supposed to take on a larger role in distributing the vaccine once the government expanded access to more people. But the slower-than-expected rollout has frustrated pharmacy chains. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores called on the federal government earlier this week to allow states to send more doses directly to pharmacies as they do with hospitals and health departments. 

The group estimated that the country’s retail pharmacies could administer at least 100 million doses of vaccines each month, which would exceed the incoming administration’s promise of 100 million shots in 100 days.

The Biden administration has said current vaccination efforts are not sufficient to quickly and equitably vaccinate the vast majority of the U.S. population, adding, “We must ensure that those on the ground have what they need to get vaccinations into people’s arms.”

The pace of vaccinations in the U.S. is going much slower than officials had hoped. As of Friday at 6 a.m. ET, more than 31.1 million doses of vaccine had been distributed across the U.S., but just over 12.2 million shots have been administered, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the plan, Biden will also invoke the Defense Production Act to “maximize the manufacture of vaccine and vaccine supplies for the country.”

The incoming president’s advisors had previously hinted that he would invoke the wartime production law, which allows the president to compel companies to prioritize manufacturing for national security, to bolster vaccine production.  

The plan says the act will increase the supply of necessary equipment that could otherwise cause bottlenecks in the vaccine’s rollout if they were in shortage, including glass vials, syringes, stoppers and needles. It will also increase the capacity to package the vaccines into vials.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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