President-elect Joe Biden will receive his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on live television on Monday, as part of a growing effort to convince the American public the inoculations are safe.
The event will come as a second vaccine, produced by Moderna, will start arriving in states, joining a Pfizer-BioNTech shot in the US arsenal against the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 317,000 in the US and upended life around the globe.
Johns Hopkins University recorded 189,099 new Covid cases in the US on Sunday and 1,509 new deaths, both figures down on record highs last week but for weekend days, when numbers usually drop. There have been more than 17.8m cases in the US.Advertisement
The Covid Tracking Project said 113,633 people were hospitalized, another small drop. Hospital and intensive care capacity is under intense strain in states across the nation.
The first shots of the Moderna vaccine, which like the Pfizer-BioNTech shot requires two doses but which is easier to store, were packed and shipped from Tennessee on Sunday.
“I don’t want to get ahead of the line,” Biden has said of his decision to be vaccinated. “But I want to make sure we demonstrate to the American people that it is safe to take.”
Biden and his wife, Jill, will also thank healthcare workers at the facility where they receive the shots, his press secretary has said.
Top government officials last week joined the first Americans to be inoculated as part of the largest largest vaccination campaign in US history. Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell and other lawmakers were given doses on Friday. They chose to publicize their injections as part of a campaign to convince Americans that the vaccines are safe and effective amid skepticism, especially among conservatives.
Kamala Harris and her husband are expected to receive their first shots next week.
Missing from the action has been Donald Trump, who has spent the last week largely out of sight as he continues to stew about his election loss, floating increasingly outlandish schemes to try to stay in power.
Trump, who has spread misinformation about vaccine risks, has not said when he intends to get the shot. He tweeted earlier this month that he was “not scheduled” to take it, but said he looked “forward to doing so at the appropriate time”. The White House has said he is still discussing timing with his doctors.
Trump was hospitalized with Covid-19 in October and given an experimental monoclonal antibody treatment he credited for his swift recovery. A CDC advisory board has said people who received that treatment should wait at least 90 days to be vaccinated to avoid any potential interference.
“When the time is right, I’m sure he will remain willing to take it,” White House spokesperson Brian Morgenstern said on Friday. “It’s just something we’re working through.”Advertisement
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, however, offered a different explanation. She told reporters last week that Trump was holding off in part “to show Americans that our priority is the most vulnerable”
The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine “is safe and likely efficacious” for people who have been infected and “should be offered regardless of history of prior symptomatic or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection”.
Experts including Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, have recommended Trump be vaccinated without delay.
“Even though the president himself was infected, and he has, likely, antibodies that likely would be protective, we’re not sure how long that protection lasts. So, to be doubly sure, I would recommend that he get vaccinated,” he told ABC.
The leader of the Trump administration’s vaccination program, Moncef Slaoui, told CNN the vaccine is safe for those who have recovered from the virus.
“We know that infection doesn’t induce a very strong immune response and it wanes over time. So I think, as a clear precaution, it is appropriate to be vaccinated because it’s safe,” he said. “I think people should be vaccinated, indeed.”