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Biden promises 'wartime' effort to fight COVID

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"To a nation waiting for action. Help is on the way."

On his first full day in office, U.S. President Joe Biden moved swiftly to launch a massive, federal effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic .

"This is a wartime undertaking"

Biden signed executive orders that will establish a COVID board to ramp up testing, address supply shortfalls, establish protocols for international travelers and direct resources to hard-hit minority communities- and he re-iterated his pledge of 100 million "shots" of the vaccine in first 100 days.

"Let me be very clear. Things are going to continue to get worse before they get better... The death toll will likely top 500,000 next month. The cases will continue to mount. We didn't get into this mess overnight. And it's going to take months for us to turn things around. But let me be equally clear. We will get through this. We will defeat this pandemic."

Biden's tone and plans were in stark contrast to his predecessor, Donald Trump, who often sought to downplay the severity of the crisis and left much of the planning to individual states, resulting in a patchwork of policies across the country.

Another striking difference -- Dr. Anthony Fauci -- brought back to the fore now as Biden's Chief Medical Advisor after being sidelined in the last administration.

"I don't want to be going back over history, but it was very clear that there were things that were said, be it, regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things like that, that really was an uncomfortable because they were not based on scientific fact... The idea that you get up here and talk about what you know, what evidence, what the science is, and know that's it. Let the science speak. It is somewhat of a liberating feeling."

Fauci said that health experts are monitoring coronavirus variants in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, and said that as of now, it "appears" the current approved vaccines in the U.S. "will be effective" -- with the caveat that the situation will need to be closely monitored.

REPORTER: "You were basically banished for a while there, do you feel like you're back now?"

FAUCI: "I think so!"

Video Transcript

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: And to a nation waiting for action, let me be clear on this point. Help is on the way.

- On his first full day in office, US President Joe Biden moved swiftly to launch a massive federal effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: This is a wartime undertaking.

- Biden signed executive orders that will establish a COVID-19 board to ramp up testing, address supply shortfalls, establish protocols for international travelers, and direct resources to hard-hit minority communities. And he reiterated his pledge of 100 million shots of the vaccine in his first 100 days.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Let me be very clear. Things are going to continue to get worse before they get better. The death toll will likely top 500,000 next month. The cases will continue to mount.

We didn't get into this mess overnight. And it's going to take months for us to turn things around. But let me be equally clear. We will get through this. We will defeat this pandemic.

- Biden's tone and plans were in stark contrast to his predecessor Donald Trump, who often sought to downplay the severity of the crisis, and left much of the planning to individual states, resulting in a patchwork of policies across the country.

Another striking difference, Dr. Anthony Fauci brought back to the fore now as Biden's Chief Medical Advisor after being sidelined in the last administration.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: I don't want to be going back, you know, over history, but it was very clear that there were things that were said, be it regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things like that, that really was uncomfortable, because they were not based on scientific fact. The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what the evidence, what the science is, and know that's it, let the science speak, it is somewhat of a liberating feeling.

- Fauci said that health experts are monitoring coronavirus variants in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil, and said that as of now, it appears the current approved vaccines in the US will be effective, with the caveat that the situation will need to be closely monitored.

- You basically vanished for a few months there for awhile. You feel like you're back now?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: I think so.

[LAUGHTER]

OK.