President-elect Joe Biden received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on television Monday afternoon, inviting a contrast to President Trump, who has yet to say he will receive the vaccine despite the recommendation of medical experts.
Biden’s wife, Jill, received the vaccine as well.
Biden, 78, has repeatedly told reporters that he wished to get publicly vaccinated in order to inspire confidence in the inoculation. Experts told Yahoo News that the timing was chosen to enable Biden to receive the second dose — which is supposed to be given three weeks later — before the inauguration, where, even in its scaled-down form, he is bound to interact with hundreds.
More than 318,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins. Biden is likely to inherit a country in a grim state, with climbing infection and death tolls nationwide. He and his transition team have stressed that distributing the vaccine and ensuring that as many Americans as possible get vaccinated is a top priority come Jan 20.
Several other high-profile Democrats — including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Massachusetts Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, as well as independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — received their first doses in the past week. The Biden camp says that Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will get her shot sometime next week.
Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence received their first doses on television last week, marking the success of the White House’s Operation Warp Speed, the initiative to fast-track several coronavirus vaccines. Pence was the head of the administration’s coronavirus task force.
Noticeably missing from that list is Trump, who survived a bout of coronavirus earlier this year. It’s still unclear when Trump first tested positive — and many facts about his illness, including its severity, remain largely unknown to the public.
Despite a recommendation from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, that both the incoming and outgoing leaders be vaccinated as soon as possible, and from U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams that all world leaders be inoculated, Trump has yet to commit, even informally, to the idea. Administration officials say it is under consideration.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said last week that Trump was “absolutely open to taking the vaccine” and will receive it when his “medical team determines that it’s best.”
In private conversations with aides, Trump has expressed frustration that he hasn’t received more credit for the development of the vaccine, according to the Washington Post.
“The vaccines — and by the way, don’t let Joe Biden take credit for the vaccine. ... Don’t let him take credit for the vaccines, because the vaccines were me,” said Trump.
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