Fact Check: Biden Exaggerated Vaccine Claim

Following the announcement that President Joe Biden tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, a clip of him saying vaccinated individuals wouldn’t get coronavirus went viral.

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Biden received the Pfizer/BioNTech two-shot COVID-19 vaccine series and two booster shots, taking his second booster on March 30 of this year.

While it’s not uncommon for videos of politicians to be deceptively edited or taken out of context, this one presents an accurate version of what Biden said during a July 2021 CNN town hall. When asked what scientists were telling him about COVID-19, Biden replied:

What they’re telling me is, “Let us decide, based on scientific data, in how we proceed.  Do it the way we would ordinarily do it.” 

Look, for example, everybody talks about how, you know, this virus came—this—this—the drugs that are designed to kill the virus came along so quickly.  They’ve been working on it for two decades.  There’s nothing quick about this. It’s been over two decades. 

So people said, “I’m not taking a drug that was approved so quickly.”  It’s been two decades. The truth is we haven’t said it enough to people to allay their feals [sic]. There’s nothing—their fears.  This is nothing that just happened yesterday and they said, “Well, let’s take a shot on this.”  And there’s a process.  Usually the process takes the better part of a year or more to get some of these things decided. 

But the expectation—they’re not promising me any specific date—but my expectation, talking to the group of scientists we put together—over 20 of them, plus others in the field—is that sometime maybe in the beginning of the school year—at the end of August, beginning of September, October—they’ll get a final approval saying the FDA said, “No, this is it.  It’s good.”

But again, one last thing.  I—we don’t talk enough to you about this, I don’t think.  One last thing that’s really important is: We’re not in a position where we think that any virus—including the Delta virus, which is much more transmissible and more deadly in terms of non—unvaccinated people—the vi—the various shots that people are getting now cover that.  They’re—you’re okay.  You’re not going to—you’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations.

The remark was quickly fact checked. As Khaya Himmelman wrote for The Dispatch Fact Check at the time: 

While it’s true that the vaccines are highly effective, breakthrough cases are possible, and expected, per the CDC: “COVID-19 vaccines are effective and are a critical tool to bring the pandemic under control. However, no vaccines are 100% effective at preventing illness in vaccinated people. There will be a small percentage of fully vaccinated people who still get sick, are hospitalized, or die from COVID-19.”

If you have a claim you would like to see us fact check, please send us an email at factcheck@thedispatch.com. If you would like to suggest a correction to this piece or any other Dispatch article, please email corrections@thedispatch.com.

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