FACT CHECK: Was There ‘No Vaccine Available’ When Joe Biden Took Office?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

A tweet from the verified White House Twitter account claims there were no COVID-19 vaccines available before President Joe Biden took office in January 2021.

Verdict: False

The first COVID-19 vaccines were administered to Americans in December 2020. By the time Biden took office in January 2021, more than 22 million doses of the vaccine had been administered, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Fact Check: 

The May 12 tweet claims that there was “no vaccine available” when Biden took office and that since then 8.3 million jobs have been created, bringing the unemployment rate down to 3.6 percent.

While the job figures touted in the tweet are largely correct, according to The Hill and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the claim regarding vaccines is inaccurate. The U.S. administered its first COVID-19 vaccines to health care workers and residents in senior citizen homes in December 2020, according to The New York Times. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine became the first vaccine to receive emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Dec. 11, 2020, according to the pharmaceutical company.

By the time Biden took office in January 2021, more than 22 million doses of the various FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in the U.S., according to data from the CDC. Biden himself received his first COVID-19 vaccine dose Dec. 21, 2020 and his second dose weeks later on Jan. 11, 2021, CNN reported. (RELATED: Would Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda Cost ‘Zero Dollars’?)

“It isn’t true that there were zero vaccines available prior to the Biden administration for I was fully vaccinated before inauguration,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in an email to Check Your Fact. “However, availability did increase significantly over the coming months after he took office but this was largely the result of prior planning through Operation Warp Speed and it was the expected timeline.”

Operation Warp Speed was a federal effort led by the Trump administration to speed up the development of the various COVID-19 vaccines, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser for the White House and the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the tweet was not accurate during an interview with CNN anchor Jake Tapper, according to Mediaite.

“I think from a pure accuracy, that’s not a correct statement,” Fauci said.

The White House acknowledged in a May 13 tweet that its May 12 tweet was inaccurate. Check Your Fact reached out to the White House for comment and will update this article if a response is provided.

Update: This article has been updated to note the White House issued a correction tweet.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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