US President-elect Joe Biden has no safety worries about taking his oath of office publicly next week.

Asked if he felt safe about the inauguration ceremony on 20 January - despite intelligence briefings outlining security threats following the Capitol building riots - he replied "yes".

Mr Biden was speaking at a briefing in which he promised to ramp up vaccinations against Covid-19 and improve upon the Donald Trump administration roll-out that he has called a "dismal failure".

Under his plan, federal disaster-relief workers would set up thousands of vaccination centres, where retired doctors would administer shots to teachers, grocery store workers, people over 65 and other groups who do not currently qualify.

Mr Biden, who will be sworn in as the new resident of the White House next Wednesday, also said he would order increased production of syringes and other supplies.

According to a document released by his transition team, the Democrat leader would invoke the US Defense Production Act to increase production of equipment needed to distribute the vaccines, such as glass vials, needles and syringes.

Mr Biden also plans a marketing campaign to encourage those sceptical of the vaccine to get inoculated.

"This is a time to set big goals and pursue them with courage and conviction because the health of the nation is literally at stake," he declared.

With infection rates soaring, Mr Biden has promised to do better than President Trump to curb the virus, and get 100 million vaccine shots into the arms of Americans during his first 100 days in office.

Covid-19 has killed more than 389,000 people in the United States and infected about 7% of the population. A top adviser said the death tally could reach 500,000 by February.

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The US President-elect will name pioneering geneticist Eric Lander as the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, his transition team said today, elevating the post to Cabinet-level status for first time.

Mr Lander, a Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who helped lead the Human Genome Project, will also serve in the role of presidential science adviser.

Earlier today, the Biden adminstration outlined a $1.9 trillion (€1.6 trillion) stimulus package proposal, saying bold investment was needed to jump-start the economy and accelerate the distribution of vaccines to bring the coronavirus under control.


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Mr Biden campaigned last year on a promise to take the pandemic more seriously than President Trump.

The aid package includes $415bn to bolster the response to the virus and the roll out of Covid-19 vaccines, around $1 trillion in direct relief to households, and roughly $440bn for small businesses and communities particularly hard hit by the pandemic.

Stimulus payment cheques would be issued for $1,400 - on top of the $600 cheques delivered by the last congressional stimulus legislation.

Supplemental unemployment insurance would also increase to $400 a week from $300 a week now and would be extended to September.

Mr Biden's plan is meant to kick off his time in office with a large bill that sets his short-term agenda into motion quickly; helping the economy and getting a handle on a virus that has killed more than 385,000 people in the United States as of yesterday.

It also provides a sharp contrast with Mr Trump, who spent the last months of his administration seeking to undermine Mr Biden's election victory rather than focusing on additional coronavirus relief.

Mr Trump, who leaves office next Wednesday, did support $2,000 payments to Americans, however.

Many Republicans in Congress balked at the price tag for such payments.

Mr Biden will face similar hurdles with his proposals, which come on the heels of a $900bn aid package Congress passed in December.

But he will be helped by the fact that his fellow Democrats will control both the House and the Senate.

Chuck Schumer, who is about to lead a narrow Democratic majority in the US Senate, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Mr Biden's package was "the right approach" and pledged to begin working on legislation.

The incoming president will seek to pass the legislation even as his predecessor faces an impeachment trial.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives voted to impeach Mr Trump on Wednesday, making him the first president in US history to be impeached twice.