Alex Azar, former President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE’s Health and Human Services secretary, said that he regrets not having the ex-commander in chief get vaccinated on national TV, arguing that doing so would have helped curb hesitancy and mistrust of the shot among his supporters.
In an op-ed published by The New York Times on Tuesday, Azar, who oversaw the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, asserted that COVID-19 itself "is nonpartisan,” and that the “vaccines that were developed to fight this virus have no political bias, either.”
“And yet the reluctance and even refusal of many Americans — including many of my fellow conservatives and Republicans — to get a COVID-19 vaccine is a frustrating irony for those of us who worked to expedite these vaccines,” he added.
While Azar said that Operation Warp Speed was successful in its commitment to “funding upfront various stages of development, including testing vaccines in humans to prove they are safe and effective,” he admitted that the administration “could have done more to address vaccine hesitancy.”
“We focused a great deal of our efforts at the start on the groups that we thought might be most hesitant,” he continued. “But we did not predict the politicization of vaccines that has led so many Republicans to hold back.”
Azar went on to cite a recent poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research published late last month, which revealed that 43 percent of Republicans said they had not yet been vaccinated and didn't plan on getting the shot in the future.
“I’m glad former President Trump got vaccinated, but it would have been even better for him to have done so on national television so that his supporters could see how much trust and confidence he has in what is arguably one of his greatest accomplishments,” Azar argued.
“In seeking to end this pandemic, the Biden administration is exhorting all unvaccinated adults in our country to get their shots, and I fully support it in this call,” Azar continued. “It would be tragic to see more lives needlessly lost when we are so close to beating this virus once and for all.”
While a Trump adviser revealed in March that Trump and former first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpFormer aide sees Melania Trump as 'the doomed French queen': book If another 9/11 happened in a divided 2021, could national unity be achieved again? Former Trump aide Stephanie Grisham planning book: report MORE received the vaccine at the White House in January, no images or video of the moments were released to the public.
Meanwhile, President BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat threatens to vote against party's spending bill if HBCUs don't get more federal aid Overnight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Haitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes MORE received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on camera, and former Presidents Carter, Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama all promoted the vaccine in a March ad, which included images of the former leaders and their wives getting the shot.
Vaccine rates are starting to tick up as health officials emphasize concerns on the highly transmissible delta variant of COVID-19, which has fueled new case surges predominantly in areas of the country with low vaccination rates.