Biden Calls for ‘Presidential Leadership’ to Fight Virus Surge

President-elect Joe Biden said Friday that the U.S. needs immediate presidential leadership as the daily death toll from the coronavirus exceeds 3,000 people.

“This nation needs presidential leadership right now, presidential leadership to model the steps we should be taking to save our lives and the lives of our families,” Biden said in a direct criticism of President Donald Trump.

Biden made his remarks before he introduced several new members of his cabinet and White House staff in Wilmington, Delaware. He said the daily death rate was “more than 9/11, more than Pearl Harbor.”

In an implicit rebuke of Trump’s handling of the crisis, which has killed almost 300,000 people in the U.S., he said: “We could wish this away, but we have to face it head on.”

Biden, who made what he called Trump’s mishandling of the coronavirus a centerpiece of his presidential campaign, promised to put in place “a national coordinated strategy that will beat this virus.”

Trump has consistently downplayed the virus and has talked about it only rarely since losing the election to Biden.

Biden also asked Americans to trust the coronavirus vaccine, which is expected to receive rapid approval from the Food and Drug Administration after an advisory panel said Thursday that the benefits of the shot being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech SE outweighed any risks.

“You should have confidence in this,” Biden said. “There is no political influence. These are first-rate scientists.”

He added: “Scientific integrity led us to this point.”

A Gallup poll released this week showed that 63% of Americans would be willing to receive an FDA-approved vaccine, a sharp increase from 50% in September and 58% in October.

Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert, told the New York Times that “at least 75%” of Americans and “hopefully close to 80-85%” would need to be inoculated to achieve “herd immunity.”

Emergency-use approval of the vaccine by the FDA would be followed by a mass inoculation effort unparalleled in American history, including a nationwide distribution effort, starting with 2.9 million doses being made available to states.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in an ABC News interview on Friday that Americans may start getting shots as soon as Monday.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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