Two Presidents, One Goal

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POOL/AFP via Getty Images

A healthcare worker prepares to administer a Pfizer/BioNTEch coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine at The Michener Institute, in Toronto, Ontario on December 14, 2020. – Ontario, Canada’s most populous province and one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, had 1,940 new cases and 23 deaths on Monday. The province is expected to give its next doses to nursing home workers as a priority, according to media reports. (Photo by CARLOS OSORIO / POOL / AFP) (Photo by CARLOS OSORIO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Since the moment COVID-19 unleashed it’s wrath on the globe in late 2019, it goes without saying that many have been hoping for a cure. The approval of multiple vaccines worldwide made by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson have given many hope that a cure is on the horizon. Here in the United States, responsibility for the distribution of the vaccine will have been overseen by both former President Donald Trump and current President Joe Biden. Both have drastically different approaches. 

To understand the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic and later the vaccine rollout we have to go back to May, 2018 when the Trump administration disbanded the National Security Council’s Pandemic Response team as a result of budget cuts. Following this, in July, 2019 an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) located in China left her post as the administration had ended the role. Once the pandemic hit the United States, President Trump seemed to take a hands off approach to managing what became a raging pandemic. The President did not federally mandate mask wearing or social distancing among other recommendations by his own health experts, as he left that up to state governors. President Trump frequently cited unproven conspiracy theories in his attempts to downplay the pandemic.  After many months of promising a cure on the horizon, hope of one appeared in late 2020 in the form of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna. However, the President left the responsibility of distributing the vaccine to the states, leading to mixed results. 

While many have voiced their displeasure with the pandemic response of the Trump administration, Joe Biden promised to be the opposite: aggressive, and transparent. On the campaign trail, Biden had used the phrase “follow the science” when it came to the pandemic. President Biden has encouraged Americans to wear a mask in his “100 Day Masking Challenge.” He also signed an executive order mandating masks on federal property just hours into his presidency. As this article is being written, Biden has signed another executive order mandating masks in US National Parks. He also plans on spending $25 billion on vaccine distribution and production and has an ambitious plan to vaccinate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office, as well as letting the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci have a prominent role as Biden’s chief medical advisor. Fauci said at his first press briefing in Biden’s presidency that he felt “liberated” The majority of Americans approve of the new president’s handling of the pandemic.

Dr. Anthony Fauci will be seen more prominently now in the new administration. (Credit: CNN)

For an AHS perspective, The Blue and White spoke a vaccinated member of our community Mr. Wilson, a dean here at AHS. He told us that he chose to be vaccinated because “I decided to get the vaccination because I work with students and for the safety of my family.” For many the process for obtaining a vaccine has been rather long and tedious. Mr. Wilson told us the contrary, “The process was actually very simple.  I’m a retired veteran with the US Navy and during my annual physical they asked if I would like to be notified when vaccinations became available. I was notified January 13th and got my first dose January 14th at the VA Hospital.” Wilson told us that he did not suffer any immediate side effects but did suffer from a sore arm and a headache that lasted about an hour. If there’s one thing Mr. Wilson wants to let those who are hesitant to take a vaccine to know it’s “I would say each persons situation is different. But if you are a front line worker and are exposed daily I highly recommend that you get the vaccination. Especially if you are over the age of 65 and have underlying health conditions.”

(Credit: BBC)

While we are two weeks into the new presidency, we can already see the differences in the responses to the pandemic. Only time will tell how President Biden’s handling of pandemic will go down.