Biden warns of 'potentially deadlier' delta variant, urges public to get vaccine
President Biden on Friday pleaded with Americans who have not yet gotten vaccinated against COVID-19 to do so as soon as possible, citing the danger posed by the new delta variant.
“Even while we're making incredible progress, it remains a serious and deadly threat,” Biden said in remarks from the White House, saying that the new variant leaves unvaccinated people “even more vulnerable than they were a month ago.”
“It’s a variant that is more easily transmissible, potentially deadlier and particularly dangerous for young people, but the good news is we have the solution,” Biden continued, adding that the “science and the data are clear” that vaccines are the most effective form of protection against the variant.
Biden encouraged Americans who have lingering questions about the vaccine to consult friends, family members and their doctors. He noted the various steps the administration has taken to make getting the vaccine as convenient as possible, such as partnering with Uber and Lyft to offer free rides to vaccination sites through July 4.
“We’re heading into, God willing, the summer of joy, the summer of freedom,” Biden said. “On July 4, we are going to celebrate our independence from the virus as we celebrate our independence of our nation. We want everyone to be able to do that.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said earlier Friday that the delta variant would likely become the dominant strain in the U.S. over the next two or three months. The variant is the most contagious yet and more likely to cause severe illness in those who have not been vaccinated.
Biden also used the remarks to tout the progress that the U.S. has made in vaccinating its population, noting the decline in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. He marked a new milestone of 300 million coronavirus vaccine doses administered in his first 150 days in office.
The president has set a goal of having 70 percent of U.S. adults with at least one dose of vaccine by the Fourth of July, though he appears increasingly likely to fall short of that goal. Currently, 65 percent of Americans 18 years old and over have had at least one dose of vaccine.
Biden emphasized on Friday that 15 states have met the benchmark so far.
He balanced the positive message of progress with a warning, noting that the states where vaccination rates are lower are not seeing the same sharp declines in cases and hospitalizations.
“As I promised you from the beginning, I’ll always give it to you straight, the good, the bad and the truth, and the truth is that deaths and hospitalizations are drastically down in places where people are getting vaccinated, but unfortunately cases and hospitalizations are not going down in many places in the lower-vaccination-rate states. They’re actually going up in some places,” Biden said.
“Please, please, if you have one shot, get the second shot as soon as you can," he said. "If you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, get vaccinated. Now. Now. Don’t put it off. It’s free, it’s easy. It’s convenient."