COVID-19

White House calls on Trump to publicly back COVID jab

President Joe Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, noted that all other living former presidents, including Democrat Barack Obama and Republican George W. Bush, have delivered public service announcements.Mr Trump, by contrast, has kept largely quiet since leaving the White House and moving to his luxury resort in Florida.“Every other living president… has participated in public campaigns. They did not need an engraved invitation to do so. So he may decide he should do that. If so, great,” Ms Psaki said.“If former president Trump woke tomorrow and wanted to be more vocal about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, certainly we support that.” The United States is on track to produce far more vaccine than it is likely to need for the entire population. And with logistical problems gradually being ironed out, experts expect the biggest hold up to mass vaccination will be scepticism among parts of the population.Polls show that Republican men, who are overwhelmingly supporters of Mr Trump and his “Make America Great Again” or MAGA platform, are leading that resistance to getting vaccinated.Asked about the phenomenon, Mr Biden said that his predecessor’s opinion on vaccines mattered less than advice from local medical and community leaders.“I discussed it with my team and they say the thing that has more impact than anything Trump would say to the MAGA folks is what the local doctor, what the preachers, what the local people in the community say,” he told reporters.“So I urge, I urge all local docs, and ministers, and priests to talk about why, why it’s important to get that vaccine, and even after that — until everyone is in fact vaccinated.” Mr Trump and his wife Melania got their own vaccines before leaving the White House in January, an advisor said. Unlike Biden and other current officials who got their shots live on television, Mr Trump in a highly unusual move kept his own vaccination private.‘EVERY AMERICAN WILL BE ELIGIBLE’Every American will be eligible for COVID vaccination by May and small group celebrations will be possible for July 4 under new federal guidelines.US President Joe Biden announced the bold and hastened timeline for a return to normal life in his first prime time address to the nation.Speaking from the East Room in the White House, Mr Biden also pledged to double the number of pharmacies giving vaccines, double the number of mass-vaccination centres and expand the types of professions who could administer the shots.Dentists, doctors, vets and medical students are among those to be tasked with injections. Mr Biden announced last week that there would be sufficient vaccine supply for every American by the end of May.His speech came exactly a year after the WHO first described the coronavirus as a pandemic and also on the anniversary of a speech from his predecessor, Donald Trump, in which he declared COVID would “go away”.Mr Biden spoke of a “collective suffering… one year since everything stopped because of this pandemic”.International Vaccine Efforts“I know it’s been hard, I truly know,” Mr Biden said.The US has suffered among the world’s worst coronavirus tolls with a continuing daily death count of about 1500.An improved rollout over recent weeks has seen 18.4 per cent of the country vaccinated.Mr Biden paid tribute to those who had died not just from COVID but also deaths from other diseases and noted the loss of in-school education and family time.He said that 527, 726 Americans had died from COVID since the pandemic started.“This virus has kept us apart. Grandparents haven’t seen their grandchildren or children, parents haven’t seen their kids. Kids haven’t seen their friends,’ he said.US President Joe Biden has said telling the truth, following scientists and the science, and working together was the formula for defeating the coronavirus during his prime-time speech from the White House.“The things that we used to do that always filled us with joy have become the things that we couldn’t do. It broke our hearts.”Describing the pandemic response as “one of the most complex operations we’ve ever undertaken as a nation”, he said the US would continue on a “war footing to get the job done”.“For all of you asking when will things get back to normal, here is the truth.“The only way to get our lives back to get our economy back on track is to beat the virus.“Thank God we are making some progress.”He said the vaccine supply was now “months ahead of schedule” and that an “army of vaccinators” would speed up the rollout that now reached 70 per cent of Americans over 70.Mr Biden’s address came 50 days into his presidency and exactly a year after the World Health Organisation first declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.He was speaking hours after his first legislative victory, signing into law the $2.44 trillion (US$1.9 trillion) American Rescue Plan, which will deliver up to a single payment of $1800 (US$1400) for every adult as soon as this weekend.Mr Biden didn’t take questions at the end of his speech. He has taken an historically long time to hold a press briefing, with Barack Obama having first taken questions 20 days into his presidency and Donald Trump doing so at 27 days.

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