President-elect Joe Biden rolled up his sleeve and received his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Monday at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware, to complete his inoculation against the deadly disease.
The process was livestreamed to reassure Americans the vaccines are safe.
Global cases of the coronavirus have topped 90 million, as the number of deaths approaches 1.9 million. In the United States, more than 375,000 people have died from the virus. The number of cases is now more than 22 million, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
The president-elect, who responded to questions after his inoculation, said the increasing number of deaths is “wrong, and we can do a lot to change it.”
Vaccinations across the United States have been uneven and have not gone according to the Trump administration's plans.
Biden’s transition team plans to vaccinate as many people as possible with their first shot, rather than save the vaccine for second doses.
This, his team believes, will give some protection against the virus to people who would otherwise not have any. Experts have advised, however, against this approach, citing inadequate data on holding back second doses.
In response, Biden’s team said plans are in place to ensure second doses are produced and delivered to Americans on time.
Two vaccines now in circulation require a second dose for optimum efficacy. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires a second shot about three weeks after the first, while Moderna’s has a four-week interval. There are currently no one-shot vaccines approved for use in the U.S.
Biden, who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, said he is optimistic his administration will be able to inoculate as many Americans as possible once he is sworn in office January 20.
The incoming administration has promised to distribute 100 million vaccinations in its first 100 days in office.
“My No. 1 priority is getting the vaccine in people's arms … as rapidly as we can, and we're working on that program now,” Biden said, adding he would have an announcement on Thursday.
Biden admitted it will not be easy to bring the virus under control but is hopeful measures such as wearing masks, social distancing and frequent handwashing, coupled with rapid vaccination, will help.
He chided Republican lawmakers who were seen without masks during the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol last week. Democratic Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware distributed face masks to lawmakers during the siege, but many Republican lawmakers refused them.
“The Republican colleagues wouldn't take the mask. Irresponsible," Biden said. “And so, we all have to make sure it's not a political issue. It's an issue of public safety. And it's going to get worse before it gets better.”