U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on Monday reacted to an announcement by drugmaker Pfizer that its vaccine was more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 with cautious optimism.
Biden said while he was delighted by the news, it was “also important to understand that the end of the battle against COVID-19 is still months away.”
He urged Americans to wear face masks to curb the spread of the virus while vaccines were being developed.
It is believed that any vaccine that is approved by the FDA this year would be distributed to the general public by mid-2021.
Biden said: “Last night, my public health advisors were informed of this excellent news. I congratulate the brilliant women and men who helped produce this breakthrough and to give us such cause for hope.
“At the same time, it is also important to understand that the end of the battle against COVID-19 is still months away. This news follows a previously announced timeline by industry officials that forecast vaccine approval by late November. Even if that is achieved, and some Americans are vaccinated later this year, it will be many more months before there is widespread vaccination in this country.
“This is why the head of the CDC warned this fall that for the foreseeable future, a mask remains a more potent weapon against the virus than the vaccine. Today’s news does not change this urgent reality. Americans will have to rely on masking, distancing, contact tracing, hand washing, and other measures to keep themselves safe well into next year. Today’s news is great news, but it doesn’t change that fact.
“America is still losing over 1,000 people a day from COVID-19, and that number is rising — and will continue to get worse unless we make progress on masking and other immediate actions. That is the reality for now, and for the next few months. Today’s announcement promises the chance to change that next year, but the tasks before us now remain the same.”