The President spoke at the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel, focusing on America's efforts in artificial intelligence for scientific research and medical applications. However, he digressed to address the issue of vaccines at the beginning of his speech.
Biden began by expressing his disappointment in the lack of attention given to investments in science and technology by the federal government over the past three decades.
According to the White House transcript of the event, he stated, "We used to lead the world" in research and development in science and technology. He highlighted the decline in U.S. spending on these areas, which has dropped from 2 percent of Gross Domestic Product to only 0.07 percent.
The president emphasized the importance of significant investment in science and technology for the nation to be the safest, most secure, and healthiest in the world. He urged everyone to engage in discussions about the need for research investment. This led him to address the issue of vaccine deniers.
Referring to the COVID-19 crisis and the loss of over a million lives, Biden expressed his concern about the increasing number of voices discouraging people from getting vaccinated.
He stated, "And we have a new strain of COVID now, and we have answers for it. But I just would urge those in public life and both political parties or no political party to be cautious about the ac- — the sometimes inflammatory things you say about this because people's lives are at stake."
The World Health Organization has reported that 1,127,152 Americans died from COVID-19. However, there may have been inaccuracies in data collection, especially in the early stages of the pandemic. Even if this number is accurate, it can be compared to the one million Americans who have died from drug overdoses since 1999, with 106,700 deaths from opioids in 2021 alone.
Interestingly, President Biden rarely mentions the opioid and fentanyl crisis, which could be addressed through effective border control, drug policies, and law enforcement. These are measures that Biden has failed to implement.
Furthermore, despite the widespread promotion of COVID-19 vaccines throughout the pandemic, the U.S. had higher death rates from the virus compared to other wealthy countries, as reported by The New York Times in 2022.
Despite the U.S. having a high percentage of its population vaccinated, with 81.82 percent receiving at least one COVID-19 shot, the efforts to encourage vaccination have not been as successful as anticipated. This is not only the case in the U.S., but also in other countries.
Many state governments in the U.S. went to great lengths to compel people to get vaccinated, often with negative consequences. Threats of job loss, loss of freedom, and denial of education were used to coerce individuals into getting vaccinated.
People who refused to get vaccinated were barred from restaurants, schools, and in some cases, even fired from their jobs.
The federal government also took measures to enforce vaccination, such as discharging thousands of U.S. soldiers from service and implementing vaccine mandates in federal government offices in Washington D.C.
Biden's plea for more discussions about vaccines appears to be more about exerting power than preventing disease. He is still frustrated that he did not have the same coercive powers as other nations during the height of the pandemic hysteria.