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Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 2017. Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Barack Obama said during an interview on SiriusXM airing Thursday he'll take the COVID-19 vaccine and "may end up taking it on TV." Representatives for George W. Bush and Bill Clinton told CNN they'd also be willing to be inoculated in public.

Why it matters: The former presidents are hoping to instill confidence in the vaccines once authorized for use in the U.S. NIAID director Anthony Fauci has said the U.S. could have herd immunity by the end of next summer or fall if enough people get vaccinated.

  • The White House coronavirus task force has warned states "the COVID risk to all Americans is at a historic high" and all authorities "must flatten the curve now in order to sustain the health system for both COVID and non-COVID emergencies."
  • On Wednesday, over 100,200 Americans were hospitalized with COVID-19 for the first time since the outbreak began in early 2020.

What they're saying: Obama told SiriusXM’s Joe Madison that if Fauci tells him a vaccine is safe and "can immunize you from getting COVID, absolutely, I'm going to take it."

"I promise you that when it's been made for people who are less at risk, I will be taking it," he said. "I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed, just so that people know that I trust this science, and what I don't trust is getting COVID."

Bush's chief of staff Freddy Ford told CNN Wednesday that the former president asked him to let Fauci and White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx know that "when the time is right, he wants to do what he can to help encourage his fellow citizens to get vaccinated."

  • "First, the vaccines need to be deemed safe and administered to the priority populations," he said. "Then, President Bush will get in line for his, and will gladly do so on camera."

Clinton's spokesperson Angel Urena told CNN, "President Clinton will definitely take a vaccine as soon as available to him, based on the priorities determined by public health officials. And he will do it in a public setting if it will help urge all Americans to do the same."

Go deeper: U.K. first nation to clear Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for mass rollout

Go deeper

Jan 19, 2021 - Health

U.S. surpasses 400,000 coronavirus deaths on Trump's final full day in office

Expand chart
Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Over 400,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S. as of Tuesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

Why it matters: It only took a little over a month for the U.S. to reach this mass casualty after 300,000 COVID deaths were reported last month. That's over 100,000 fatalities in 36 days.

Jan 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."

Dave Lawler, author of World
Jan 19, 2021 - World

Biden will bring U.S. into COVAX vaccine initiative, Blinken says

Data: Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Secretary of State designate Tony Blinken announced in a confirmation hearing on Tuesday that President-elect Biden would bring the U.S. into the COVAX initiative — the global effort from the World Health Organization and other groups to ensure that every country has access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Why it matters: Virtually the entire world has signed onto COVAX, apart from the U.S. and Russia. It's expected to be the only source of vaccines for some of the world's poorest countries, and it needs additional funding to fulfill its goal of vaccinating at least 20% of the population in every country by the end of 2021.