“You’re not going to get covid if you have these vaccinations.”
The Biden administration has been encouraging people who haven’t been vaccinated to get the shot so the country can avoid another wave of coronavirus infections.
Studies and clinical trials have shown the vaccines available in the United States to be highly effective in building immunity to the disease, with immunization rates of 90 percent or more when measuring the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna against the initial strain of SARS-CoV-2.
However, Biden’s statement in this case was not accurate, because some people with vaccine immunity in rare cases develop what are known as “breakthrough” infections. (No vaccine is 100 percent effective.)
Doctors say the symptoms are generally milder for breakthrough cases of covid-19, because the body’s acquired immunity is still able to tamp down the worst of the disease.
“The good news about that, if you want to call it good news, is that the overwhelming majority of those people don’t go on to get advanced disease,” Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Biden’s chief medical adviser on the novel coronavirus, said on MSNBC on Wednesday. “They generally are either asymptomatic or have mildly symptomatic disease. The people who are really getting into trouble, both from an infectious standpoint, namely, getting infected, and then getting a serious outcome of infection, are the unvaccinated.”
Still, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received reports of several thousand breakthrough infections. As of July 12, the CDC reported 5,189 hospitalizations involving breakthrough cases, 28 percent of which were reported as asymptomatic or not related to covid-19, and 1,063 deaths, of which 26 percent were reported as asymptomatic or unrelated to covid.
In Israel, the Pfizer vaccine prevented infections in 64 percent of people during an outbreak of the delta variant, down from 94 percent previously, according to the country’s health ministry. But the Pfizer shot still prevented severe illness in 94 percent of cases, down from 97 percent previously, the Israeli Health Ministry said.
Biden at another point in his town hall described the vaccine’s efficacy rate more accurately. More than 97 percent of covid-19 deaths in the United States recently are of unvaccinated individuals, health officials say. (“Ten thousand people have recently died; 9,950 of them, thereabouts, are people who hadn’t been vaccinated,” Biden said. “There’s a simple, basic proposition: If you’re vaccinated, you’re not going to be hospitalized, you’re not going to be in an ICU unit, and you’re not going to die.”)
“You may have heard that I was critical of some of the things that are on Facebook, and it was that I was ‘attacking Facebook.’ I wasn’t attacking Facebook. There was a report out saying that, for that — something like 45 percent of the overwhelming disinformation on Facebook comes from 12 individuals. I said: ‘They’re killing people — those 12 individuals; that misinformation is going to kill people.’ Not a joke. Not a joke.”
Biden on July 16 claimed Facebook was “killing people” by letting coronavirus misinformation go unchecked on its vast social network. Days later, in his CNN town hall, the president said he never intended to single out the tech company, but rather 12 of its users who are deemed “superspreaders” of misinformation.
Biden’s initial comments were much blunter.
At the White House on July 16, as Biden prepared to board Marine One, a reporter asked, “On covid misinformation, what’s your message to platforms like Facebook?” Biden said: “They’re killing people. I mean, they’re really … look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that — and they’re killing people.”
When asked to clarify those comments days later, the president said he’d recently read an article saying that the majority of misinformation on Facebook came from a dozen individuals.
“Facebook isn’t killing people; these 12 people are out there giving misinformation,” Biden said July 19, backtracking on his initial comments. “Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It’s killing people. It’s bad information.”
Biden appeared to be referring to a study about a group of accounts called the “disinformation dozen,” identified by the Center for Countering Digital Hate as spreading vaccine misinformation or hoaxes. Facebook previously said it has taken enforcement action against pages and accounts connected to these people in more than a dozen instances.
The company published a blog post titled “Moving Past the Finger Pointing,” contending that vaccine acceptance has been rising on Facebook since January and defending itself against Biden’s accusation.
In December, Facebook said it would ban false and misleading statements concerning coronavirus vaccines. The company said it has removed more than 18 million pieces of coronavirus-related misinformation since the start of the pandemic, but health misinformation still persists on the platform, and Facebook hasn’t disclosed the total amount of misinformation that people have seen or amplified.
“Now, by the way, remember when I first got elected, the issue was, well, I said I was going to do a million shots a week, and people said, ‘Biden can’t do that’ or ‘Biden team can’t do that.’ And it was 2 million.”
Vaccinations had reached a seven-day average of 980,000 by the time Biden took office — virtually the goal Biden initially set for himself. The Biden administration by spring had managed to more than double that daily total, but if you go by his comments, Biden was assured of winning the race even before he started it.
As for whether many Americans said the goal was “way over the top,” we are unaware of polling that would confirm that. Most news accounts depicted Biden’s goal as potentially difficult, but not unreachable, when he announced it in early December. The New York Times called the plan “ambitious,” adding that “fulfilling it will require no hiccups in manufacturing or distributing the vaccine and a willingness by Americans to be vaccinated.” The Washington Post also called it an “ambitious target” and USA Today pegged it as a “lofty goal.”
“The cost of an automobile bill, it’s kind of back to what it was before the pandemic.”
Biden is wrong by several measures. The consumer price index for new and used cars in U.S. cities was 20 percent higher last month compared with February 2020, the last month before the U.S. economy went into a pandemic-induced recession for three months.
Measuring from June 2019 to June 2021, the increase in car prices is also 20 percent.
In fact, car prices seem to be driving a larger increase in the overall CPI. The indicator reached a 13-year high in May, with one-third of the increase being due to a surge in used-car prices, as CNN Business reported. (New-car prices are also up, because of factors including a shortage of computer chips.)
“It’s called the child tax credit. If you have a child under the age of 7, you get 300 bucks a month — 350 bucks a month. If you have a child under — between 7 and 17, you get a total of 200 bucks a month.”
These numbers are all slightly awry. Biden in March signed into law a $1.9 trillion stimulus called the American Rescue Plan, which includes a temporary expansion of the child tax credit for 2021. (We explain all the details here.)
The age limit for eligible children was raised from 16 to 17, and the value of the tax credit increased from a flat rate of $2,000 per child to $3,600 for children 5 and younger, and $3,000 for those ages 6 to 17.
For families, this means monthly payments of up to $300 for each qualifying child 5 and younger (not $350), and up to $250 (not $200) for each child ages 6 to 17. The dividing line is age 6, not 7, as Biden said.
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