Former President Donald Trump issued a statement on Sunday claiming that Americans are “refusing” to take the coronavirus vaccine due to mistrust of the Biden administration, the media and the 2020 presidential election results.
“Joe Biden kept talking about how good of a job he’s doing on the distribution of the Vaccine that was developed by Operation Warp Speed or, quite simply, the Trump Administration. He’s not doing well at all,” Trump’s statement said.
“He’s way behind schedule, and people are refusing to take the Vaccine because they don’t trust his Administration, they don’t trust the Election results, and they certainly don’t trust the Fake News, which is refusing to tell the Truth,” the statement added.
Though Trump’s administration faced criticism for a slow vaccine rollout that significantly lagged behind expectations in December and January, the former president has continuously praised his COVID-19 response team and pointed fingers at President Joe Biden. Since leaving office, Trump has also continued to push the baseless conspiracy theory that the election was stolen due to mass voter fraud.
Trump’s Sunday statement comes just two weeks after the Biden administration failed to reach its vaccination goal of partially inoculating at least 70 percent of Americans by July 4. Still, over 161 million people are fully vaccinated and 68 percent of adults have received at least one dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, some 90 million eligible people have yet to receive at least one shot.
Now, Biden’s administration is scrambling to vaccinate more Americans as COVID-19 cases are rising across the country due to the highly contagious Delta variant.
According to a Friday report from the CDC, coronavirus cases across the U.S. are up by nearly 70 percent and hospitalizations are up by 36 percent from the previous week. At least 38 states have shown a 50 percent increase of new cases in the past week, with the variant appearing to spread fastest amongst unvaccinated populations.
On Sunday, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said that 99.5 percent of new COVID-19 deaths are happening among unvaccinated people, and expressed concern that the issue could quickly become worse.
“I am worried about what is to come because we are seeing increasing cases among the unvaccinated in particular. And while, if you are vaccinated, you are very well protected against hospitalization and death, unfortunately that is not true if you are not vaccinated,” Murthy said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
On Friday, Biden said the amount of misinformation on Facebook and other social media sites was “killing people,” and added that “the only pandemic we have is among [the] unvaccinated” population.
In response, Facebook issued a statement saying that 85 percent of its users were vaccinated or plan to be, and the administration was “looking for scapegoats for missing their vaccine goals.”
Christopher Krebs, the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), said on Sunday that while Facebook and other social media companies can provide helpful information on the pandemic and vaccine safety, misinformation is likely going to continue to spread.
Krebs added that the amount of vaccine misinformation online is akin to the way misinformation about the 2020 presidential election spread.
“What we are seeing here is an ecosystem of information purveyors. Some of this is politically motivated. Some of it is the anti-vax community. Some of it is profiteering. And I tend to believe that there’s a lot of that going on here,” he said during a CBS interview Sunday.
Newsweek contacted the White House for additional comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.