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Pence’s wife, Karen, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams were also shot.

President Donald Trump’s administration helped administer vaccines against coronavirus even earlier than some in his administration believed possible, launching Operation Warp Speed – the government’s campaign to help develop and distribute vaccines quickly – this spring with great fanfare in the Rose Garden of the White House.
Vice President Mike Pence, seated left, his wife Karen Pence, seated center, and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, seated right, prepare to receive an injected Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Washington
Vice President Mike Pence, seated left, his wife Karen Pence, seated center, and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, seated right, prepare to receive an injected Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Washington (AP)
But five days after largest vaccination campaign in the country’s historyTrump has not held public events to herald the launch. He himself has not been vaccinated. He’s only tweeted twice about the shot. Meanwhile, Pence has taken center stage: He toured a vaccine production facility this week and received a dose live on television Friday morning. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday they will get vaccinated in the next few days.

Pence, along with his wife, Karen, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams, received their vaccinations Friday morning in an office suite in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building from three Walter Reed National Military Medical Center medical technicians.

Trump’s relative silence comes as he continues to talk about his defeat in the November 3 elections and embraces ever more extreme efforts to override the will of the people. He has pushed aside the plans of aides who wanted him to be the public face of the vaccination campaign, avoiding visits to laboratories and production facilities to thank workers, or organizing efforts to build public confidence in the vaccine, according to people familiar with the conversations.
Vice President Mike Pence receives a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Washington
Vice President Mike Pence receives a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Washington (AP)

The timid approach has been surprising, especially for a president who is rarely ashamed to take credit for himself, said Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown Law professor who focuses on public health.

“The relatively low profile of the president on the COVID response since the election is curious and contrary to the interests of Trump himself,” he said. Gostin, who has criticized Trump’s handling of the pandemic in the past, said he “deserves a lot of credit” for Operation Warp Speed ​​and for betting on two vaccines they use. revolutionary mRNA technology.

“Having shown leadership in vaccine development, you should be proud to publicly demonstrate your confidence in COVID vaccines,” he said.

Trump appeared at a “summit” at the White House before the Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer vaccine last week. That event included an introductory video highlighting past comments from those, including the government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who doubted an injection would be ready this year.

Karen Pence, seated center, receives a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Washington
Karen Pence, seated center, receives a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Washington (AP)

But many Trump aides are puzzled by his low profile now that the vaccine is being injected. They see it as a missed opportunity for the president, who leaves office at noon on January 20, to claim credit for helping to oversee the rapid development and deployment of the vaccine that is expected to eventually contain the virus that has killed more. than 310,000 Americans. .

Trump himself has tried to downplay any credit that might go to his successor, President-elect Joe Biden, who will preside over most of the nationwide injection campaign next year. Biden hopes to get his break next week.

“Don’t let Joe Biden take credit for the vaccines,” Trump told reporters. “Don’t let the vaccines take credit because the vaccines were me, and I put more pressure on people than I ever have before.”

In this Dec. 15, 2020 photo, Vice President Mike Pence hits the elbow with Alessandro Maselli, Catalent's president and chief operating officer, following a panel discussion at Catalent Biologics in Bloomington, Indiana.
In this Dec. 15, 2020 photo, Vice President Mike Pence hits the elbow with Alessandro Maselli, Catalent’s president and chief operating officer, following a panel discussion at Catalent Biologics in Bloomington, Indiana. (AP)

Despite Trump’s claims, FDA scientists were the ones who came up with the idea for Operation Warp Speed, the White House-backed effort through which millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines and treatments are being manufactured even as they are still being evaluated. And much of the groundbreaking work for injections was established over the past decade, including through research on messenger RNA, or mRNA, used in vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna. Pfizer developed its vaccine outside of Operation Warp Speed, but is partnering with the federal government on manufacturing and distribution.

Trump’s low-key approach could have an impact on public health. Fauci told NBC News this week that 75-85% of the nation needs to be vaccinated to achieve “herd immunity,” making the public education campaign on vaccine safety even more urgent.

A poll by The Associated Press-NORC Public Affairs Research Center found that only about half of Americans want to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Another room in the audience is unsure, while the remaining room says they are not interested. Some are simply opposed to vaccines in general. Others worry that the injections have been rushed and want to see how the rollout goes.

As Trump sat on the sidelines, some of his favorite commentators, including Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, were questioning the safety of the vaccine.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Brian Morgenstern said Trump “will continue to update the country through a variety of media while giving OWS medical professionals and hardworking staff the space to do their jobs and save lives.” .

According to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is not enough information yet to determine whether those who have had COVID-19, like Trump, should receive the vaccine. Still, Fauci recommended that Trump take it publicly without delay.

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“Even though the president himself was infected, and probably has antibodies that would probably be protective, we are not sure how long that protection will last. So, to be doubly sure, I would recommend that he get vaccinated in addition to the vice president,” Fauci said ABC News.

It was unclear if first lady Melania Trump, who contracted COVID-19 at the same time as her husband, would be vaccinated.

“The last thing I would say to all Americans is to trust that we have cut red tape, but we have spared no effort when it comes to developing this vaccine,” Pence said this week at a vaccine production facility in Indiana.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters this week that Trump, who has previously spread misinformation about other vaccines, was trying to send a message about priorities by delaying his own vaccination.

“The president wants to send a parallel message that is, you know, the residents of our long-term care facilities and our frontline workers are of the utmost importance,” he said.

Gostin disagreed. “It will be hugely damaging to public confidence in the vaccine if President Trump is not visibly enthusiastic, even if he receives his vaccine on national television,” he argued. “It is simply not enough to have Vice President Pence as your representative.”

Presidents and their families have often displayed their vaccinations to boost public confidence. President Dwight Eisenhower noted that one of his grandchildren was among the first wave of American children vaccinated against polio. In 2009, President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle vaccinated their two young daughters, who were in a higher risk group, against swine flu.


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