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A COVID-19 vaccination is administered at a 24-hour, walk-up clinic hosted by the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium at Temple University in Philadelphia. (AP) A COVID-19 vaccination is administered at a 24-hour, walk-up clinic hosted by the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium at Temple University in Philadelphia. (AP)

A COVID-19 vaccination is administered at a 24-hour, walk-up clinic hosted by the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium at Temple University in Philadelphia. (AP)

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson February 23, 2021

Vaccines are up and infections are down under Biden, but it’s not all his doing

If Your Time is short

• The number of new infections and the pace of vaccinations have shown steady improvement during President Joe Biden’s tenure.

• The decline in cases began more than a week before Biden took office, and the pace of new cases and vaccinations did not change dramatically after he became president.

The coronavirus pandemic isn’t yet approaching its end, but Democrats are expressing widespread relief that the Biden administration — and not the Trump administration — will be tackling the virus from here on out.

One post that attracted some 28,000 reactions reflected this sentiment.

Over a picture of a smiling Biden flashing the thumbs-up sign, the Feb. 19 post said, "Boom! COVID-19 infections down 61% from Trump’s last day. COVID-19 vaccinations up 85% from Trump’s last day. Competence matters!!!"

 

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Here is a chart showing the seven-day rolling average for new coronavirus cases between Jan. 1 and Feb. 21. The first 20 days of that period were under President Donald Trump and are shown in red, while the rest were under Biden and are shown in blue.

 

Cases fell by 65%, which is close to the 61% cited in the post.

However, it’s worth noting that the number of cases started falling about 10 days before Biden took office, and that decline did not appreciably accelerate after he took office.

As for vaccinations, they also increased steadily on Biden’s watch, but not at a significantly faster rate than they did in Trump’s final days.

Featured Fact-check

 

The number of vaccinations on Feb. 19 was 88% higher than the number on Jan. 20, which is close to the 85% cited in the post. (The data show a decline in recent days that is due to a combination of slow reporting of data and delays caused by the winter storm that affected a broad cross-section of the country.)

In contrast to Trump, who was criticized for a lack of focus on the pandemic and for a reluctance to stand firmly behind policies urged by public health experts such as wearing masks, Biden made fighting the pandemic a cornerstone of his presidential campaign and promised a more science-based approach and a stronger federal hand in the vaccine rollout.

Still, experts cautioned against assuming that Biden deserves full credit for these statistical gains.

"I do not think it’s fair to say that Biden singlehandedly slashed coronavirus infections or caused vaccination to skyrocket, but he certainly didn’t seem to hurt the effort," said Brooke Nichols, an infectious disease mathematical modeler at the Boston University School of Public Health. 

It’s also too early to say that Biden’s initiatives are having an on-the-ground impact that can be easily identified in the data, said Natalie Dean, a University of Florida biostatistician.

"Although there have been some strong new initiatives put into place at the start of his term, these will take time to have an impact, particularly those related to vaccine rollout, such as ramping up manufacturing," Dean said. "Operation Warp Speed deserves a lot of credit for the availability of safe and efficacious vaccines, and this initiative was started under Trump."

John Sellers, the executive director and co-founder of the Other98, told PolitiFact that the group agrees that "there are many factors playing a role on the trajectory of COVID vaccinations and infections." He added that the post does not explicitly state "that all these changes are due Biden."

Our ruling

A viral image that features Biden giving a thumbs up says "COVID-19 infections down 61% from Trump’s last day. COVID-19 vaccinations up 85% from Trump’s last day. Competence Matters."

These specific figures are basically accurate, and both the number of new infections and the pace of vaccinations have shown steady improvement during Biden’s tenure. However, it’s important to note that the decline in cases began more than a week before Biden took office, and the pace of new cases and vaccinations did not change direction dramatically once Biden took office.

The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information. We rate the statement Mostly True.

Our Sources

Facebook post, Feb. 19, 2021

COVID Tracking Project, coronavirus case data, accessed Feb. 22, 2021

Our World in Data, coronavirus vaccination tracker, accessed Feb. 22, 2021

Email interview with Brooke Nichols, infectious disease mathematical modeler at the Boston University School of Public Health, Feb. 22, 2021

Email interview with Natalie Dean, University of Florida biostatistician, Feb. 23, 2021

Email interview with John Sellers, executive director and co-founder of the Other98, Feb. 22, 2021

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More by Louis Jacobson

Vaccines are up and infections are down under Biden, but it’s not all his doing

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