Democrat Joe Biden said Friday that if elected president he would mandate coronavirus vaccines be free for all Americans, part of a national strategy to “get ahead of this virus.”
“Once we have a safe and effective vaccine, it has to be free to everyone – whether or not you’re insured,” Biden said in a speech laying out his pandemic response plan just 11 days before the US presidential election.
President Donald Trump, who trails Biden in the polls, has also stressed that a vaccine – which he says will be ready in the coming weeks – should be free.
But Democrats led by Biden have hammered Trump for failing to lay out and implement a nationwide response to a pandemic that has now killed more than 223,000 Americans.
“Covid-19 dwarfs anything that we’ve faced in recent history, and it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. The virus is surging in almost every state,” Biden said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware.
“We’re more than eight months into this crisis and the president still doesn’t have a plan,” the 77-year-old former vice president said.
“He’s given up. He’s quit on you. He’s quit on your family. He’s quit on America.”
Biden said that if elected he would “immediately” put in place a national strategy “to finally get ahead of this virus, and get back our lives.”
That would include consulting governors of all 50 states during the presidential transition.
Were he to take office, Biden would urge Congress to pass a major bill outlining everything needed to combat the virus, implement a national mask mandate in federal buildings and interstate transportation and implement a national testing plan equivalent to a seven-fold increase over today’s testing level.