Former US presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton have pledged to get vaccinated for coronavirus on television to promote the safety of the vaccine.
The trio’s effort comes as the Food and Drug Administration prepares to meet next week to decide whether to authorize a Covid-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech.
More than 3,100 people died from the coronavirus in America on Wednesday, a record single-day high and more than the number of people killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Obama, Bush and Clinton’s willingness to address the seriousness of the pandemic is markedly different from the attitude of Donald Trump, who remained silent as the US passed 250,000 coronavirus deaths in November.
In an interview with SiriusXM host Joe Madison, Obama said that he would trust Anthony Fauci if the infectious disease expert declares a coronavirus vaccine to be safe.
“People like Anthony Fauci, who I know, and I’ve worked with, I trust completely,” Obama said. “So, if Anthony Fauci tells me this vaccine is safe, and can vaccinate, you know, immunize you from getting Covid, absolutely, I’m going to take it.”
Many Americans say they will not agree to be vaccinated against Covid-19. A poll by Gallup, released in mid-November, showed that 42% of the country would not take the vaccine even if it was “available right now at no cost”.
Obama said he would take the vaccine once it was available for people “who are less at risk”. The 44th president is 59 and is not known to suffer from any serious health problems.
“I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed, just so that people know that I trust this science, and what I don’t trust is getting Covid,” he added.
Freddy Ford, Bush’s chief of staff, told CNN the former president is also willing to receive the vaccine on camera.
“A few weeks ago, President Bush asked me to let Dr Fauci and Dr Birx know that, when the time is right, he wants to do what he can to help encourage his fellow citizens to get vaccinated,” Ford told CNN.
“First, the vaccines need to be deemed safe and administered to the priority populations. Then, President Bush will get in line for his, and will gladly do so on camera.”
Clinton’s press secretary told CNN that he too is prepared to be filmed as he takes the vaccine.
“President Clinton will definitely take a vaccine as soon as available to him, based on the priorities determined by public health officials,” Angel Urena said. “And he will do it in a public setting if it will help urge all Americans to do the same.”
The three presidents, along with Jimmy Carter and George H Bush, who died in 2018, previously teamed up to raise money for relief efforts for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.