As he urged Americans who are still hesitant to get vaccinated, President Joe Biden told an Ohio town hall on Wednesday night that he expected the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would soon give final approval to COVID-19 vaccines.
At the moment, all three vaccines being used in this country have only emergency use approval. But many medical professionals have pushed for the final approval, saying it could help ease people’s concerns and boost vaccination rates.
“My expectation talking to the group of scientists we put together, over 20 of them plus others in the field, is that sometime, maybe in the beginning of the school year, at the end of August, beginning of September, October, they’ll get a final approval” for the vaccines, Biden said.
The president also said he expected children under the age of 12 would be approved to get it on an emergency basis “soon, I believe.”
Biden’s assurances came as the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant fuels a rise in coronavirus cases in the United States. Over the past week, an average of roughly 41,300 cases has been reported each day across the country, an increase of 171 percent from two weeks ago, The New York Times reported.
Meanwhile, the number of new deaths reported is up by 42%, to an average of 249 a day for the past week. Almost all illnesses and deaths are now occurring in unvaccinated people.
In some states, such as Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida, new infections have increased sharply, driving an increase in hospitalizations, the Times reported. Cases are increasing more rapidly in states where vaccination rates are low.
As of Thursday, nearly 49% of all Americans were fully vaccinated, with just over 56% having had their first shot, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Ohio, Biden found himself fielding questions from audience members concerned about low vaccination rates in their communities.
“This is [a] simple, basic proposition,” he said. “If you’re vaccinated, you’re not going to be hospitalized. You’re not going to be in an ICU unit. And you are not going to die.”
Later, Biden exaggerated the efficacy of the vaccine, even as some vaccinated staffers in the West Wing have recently tested positive for the coronavirus. “You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations,” he said.