With less than a week before the 20 January inauguration, the US president-elect addressed Americans virtually on Friday, outlining the multi-step approach to his administration's COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which is to be funded in part with the "American Rescue Plan" unveiled a day prior.
"Truthfully, we remain in a very dark winter," Biden acknowledged, making note of a current US death toll nearing 400,000 COVID-19-related fatalities. "The vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure thus far."
The president-elect's plan to combat the pandemic calls for seven points: ensuring Americans have reliable and free testing; fixing any known PPE problems; providing national guidance and resources for communities; planning for the "effective, equitable" distribution of treatment and vaccines; protecting vulnerable communities, including the elderly; rebuilding the US healthcare system to "predict, prevent, and mitigate pandemic threats;" and implementing a national mask mandate.
The president-elect pledged to end confusion surrounding vaccine distribution and quickly roll out a “transparent” approach to getting vaccines out to states.
Biden promises to be transparent with state governments and the American people about vaccine supplies and decisions pic.twitter.com/k4w4RwEImD— NowThis (@nowthisnews) January 15, 2021
In his push to vaccinate 100 million Americans in the first 100 days of his presidency, Biden emphasized on Friday that he believes it is necessary to address the racism involved with the fallout from the COVID-19 coronavirus in the US.
"It's a critical piece to account for a tragic reality of the disproportionate impact this virus has had on Black, Latinos, and Native American people," Biden stated.
According to COVID-19 data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black Americans and Hispanic or Latino Americans are 2.8 times more likely to die from the novel coronavirus, compared to white Americans. American Indian or Alaska Native individuals are 2.6 times more likely to die than their white counterparts in the US.
"This is a fundamentally different approach than the Trump administration," said Jeff Zients, a COVID-19 coordinator for Biden, speaking to Politico. "This will be an all-of-the-federal government approach [...] based on science and informed and managed by a dedicated group of experts.”
Histoprically, however, events such as the 20th century Tuskegee Experiment, an "ethically unjustified" syphilis study that resulted in the death of dozens of Black American men, and other questionable scientific studies of the past have left many Black Americans suspicious about the transparency of government-supplied vaccinations and medical treatment.
Let’s be real about Black people and vaccines. They haven’t forgotten the Tuskegee Experiment, Henrietta Lacks and all the other times we’ve been poked, prodded and taken advantage of for research purposes. Going to take a valiant campaign for COVID vaccine.— Erica Simon (@EricaOnABC13) December 6, 2020
Some resistance as a result of a lack of trust in government will likely be encountered by Biden’s vaccine program team, headed by David Kessler, a former Food and Drug Administration chief and current pandemic adviser for the US president-elect.