Biden lauds Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine news, but urges country to remain cautious
President-elect Joe Biden on Monday lauded the news of Pfizer’s progress on a COVID-19 vaccine but urged Americans to be cautious because widespread vaccination is still many months away.
In a statement, Biden said Pfizer’s announcement that interim data showed its vaccine was 90 percent effective was “excellent news” that gives Americans “cause for hope.”
But Biden said the news does not mean there is a cure. He urged patience and attempted to set realistic expectations that the timetable for any potential vaccine has not changed, and it will be well into 2021 before there is widespread vaccination.
“America is still losing over 1,000 people a day from COVID-19, and that number is rising — and will continue to get worse unless we make progress on masking and other immediate actions. That is the reality for now, and for the next few months. Today’s announcement promises the chance to change that next year, but the tasks before us now remain the same,” Biden said.
“Americans will have to rely on masking, distancing, contact tracing, hand washing, and other measures to keep themselves safe well into next year. Today’s news is great news, but it doesn’t change that fact,” Biden added.
Pfizer on Monday announced that early results from its late-stage clinical trial showed its COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90 percent effective at protecting people compared with a placebo saline shot.
The data were encouraging and showed the potential that the unprecedented scientific effort to find a vaccine for COVID-19 could be successful.
Biden’s statement was a sharp contrast to President Trump, who has used vaccine development as a political tool. He accused Food and Drug Administration scientists of being part of a “deep state” conspiracy to slow a vaccine, and said the agency was pulling a “political hit job.”
“STOCK MARKET UP BIG, VACCINE COMING SOON. REPORT 90% EFFECTIVE. SUCH GREAT NEWS!” Trump tweeted after the news on Monday.
Trump’s allies also sought to give the president credit for Pfizer’s effort. However, the company is not part of the administration’s Operation Warp Speed effort and did not take any federal funding to develop a vaccine. The government will pay Pfizer almost $2 billion to deliver 100 million doses, which the government will distribute when they are ready.
Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla had been teasing the potential of vaccine results prior to Election Day, and outside experts have worried a vaccine would be rushed through the regulatory process and would be announced before data were ready as an “October surprise” to help Trump.
In the end, the vaccine results were announced nearly a week after the election, after the race had been called for Biden.
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