President Biden met with the nation’s top scientists and vaccine researchers during a visit to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Feb. 11, where he announced that the United States is on track to procure enough doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate 300 million Americans by the end of July.
During the visit, he toured the Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center (VRC) with NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, MD; and VRC staff, including Deputy Director Barney Graham, MD, PhD, and immunologist and investigator Kizzmekia Corbett, PhD. While there, he praised the work of the research community in developing the vaccine.
“The scientific community repurposed labs to work on COVID-19; developed therapeutics, new diagnostics technologies, and vaccines in record time. And you’re highlighting lessons learned on the importance of pandemic preparedness, public-private partnerships, real-time data sharing, and most of all, speed and efficiency without compromising science and good conscience,” President Biden said.
Throughout his visit, President Biden expressed thanks to NIH staff, their families, and the research community for their contribution to the historically rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines, therapies, and diagnostics. He also acknowledged that the pandemic has imposed substantial disruptions to the research community, beyond COVID-19 research.
“The devastation of this pandemic — the loss of life and livelihoods — hasn’t spared the scientific community: labs closed, research delayed, careers disrupted, especially for those in training. Yet with every moment of despair in this past year, you and all the heroes and heroines on the frontiers of this pandemic remind us who we are,” he said.
This was the third White House visit to the NIH campus since the president’s inauguration. On Jan. 26, Vice President Kamala Harris received her second dose of the Moderna vaccine at the NIH. In her remarks, she reminisced about washing laboratory glassware as a girl for her late mother, Shyamala Gopalan, PhD, a cancer biologist who once served as a peer reviewer on NIH study sections.
First Lady Jill Biden visited the NIH campus virtually in a Feb. 3 presentation with Collins and National Cancer Institute Director Ned Sharpless, MD, in recognition of World Cancer Day.