Fauci, Azar receive COVID-19 vaccine

Fauci, Azar receive COVID-19 vaccine
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Top infectious diseases doctor Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci: Too soon to say if omicron is final wave of pandemic The Hill's 12:30 Report: Djokovic may not compete in French Open over vaccine requirement Public health expert: Biden administration needs to have agencies on the 'same page' about COVID MORE and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar were among Trump administration health officials and National Institutes of Health (NIH) front-line medical workers who received a dose of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday.

The event, held at the NIH, was meant to bolster the confidence of Americans as doses of the two authorized vaccines are distributed across the country.

The U.S. needs at least 70 percent of the population to get vaccinated in order to stop the threat of the coronavirus.

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Fauci said he got the shot "as a symbol to the rest of the country that I feel extreme confidence in the safety and the efficacy of this vaccine."

"I want to encourage everyone who has the opportunity to get vaccinated so that we could have a veil of protection over this country, that would end this pandemic," Fauci said.

Azar thanked front-line health workers and scientists and gave credit to the Trump administration for Operation Warp Speed, the program aimed at speeding the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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"When the government and industry charged together toward a really bold goal, we can achieve unbelievable things," Azar said. He urged also Americans to heed the advice of public health experts by continuing to wear masks and maintain physical distancing.

"Americans should also know that this vaccine has been through the kind of searching and independent review that they expect for any drug or vaccine at the Food and Drug Administration," Azar said.

The NIH played a significant part in helping to develop Moderna's vaccine as part of the administration's Operation Warp Speed. The government initiative has invested more than $4 billion of taxpayer money to aid Moderna in the development and distribution of its candidate.

"It's particularly meaningful to me as a member of the NIH for so many years" to receive a vaccine with the "fundamental basic research" conducted at and funded by NIH, Fauci said. 

"What we're seeing now is the culmination of years of research, which have led to a phenomenon that has truly been unprecedented," he added. 

Despite the positive developments, the U.S. is a long way from vaccinating its entire population, and experts are warning that the coming months are going to be grim.

The coronavirus is spreading at an alarming rate across almost the entire country.

The United States has recorded nearly 18 million coronavirus infections and more than 318,000 deaths, at more than 3,000 people every day.