Biden said the COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory in the US - but he will encourage people to 'do the right thing'
- Biden told reporters on Friday he will not make any
- "I'll do everything in my power as president of the United States to encourage people to do the right thing," said the president-elect.
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is due to assemble a panel of experts on December 10 to decide whether to give emergency authorization to Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine.
"I don't think it should be mandatory, I wouldn't demand it be mandatory. But I would do everything in my power - just like I don't think masks have to be made mandatory nationwide - I'll do everything in my power as president of the United States to encourage people to do the right thing and when they do it demonstrate that it matters," Biden told reporters in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.
It's possible the US will give emergency authorization to a COVID-19 vaccine as early as next week, but health experts worry that if some people choose not to take a vaccine it could hamper the fight against the pandemic.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)is due to assemble a panel of experts on December 10 to assess Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine, which Pfizer says is 95% effective. If the emergency authorization is granted, the vaccine could start rolling out in 24 hours. The UK has already approved the Pfizer vaccine, which was greenlit by the country's drug regulator on Wednesday, December 2.
But questions linger over how many people will sign up to get a vaccine once it becomes available. A survey published by the Pew Research Center on Thursday showed 60% of respondents said they would definitely get a vaccine, up from 51% in September.
Biden on Thursday expressed the concern that people have "lost faith in the ability of the vaccine to work," and said that once a vaccine has been endorsed by Dr. Anthony Fauci he will publicly take the shot to encourage others to get it.
Dr. Celine Gounder, an advisor to Biden, told CNN last month the president-elect will leave decisions around who the vaccine gets rolled out to first to "public health experts and scientists."
Biden also said Thursday he will ask US citizens to wear masks in public spaces for the first 100 days of his presidency, which begins with his inauguration on January 20, and will make them mandatory in federal buildings and on public transport.
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