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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 29, 2021 - Health

J&J says its one-shot vaccine is 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID

Photo: Thiago Prudêncio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson announced Friday that its single-shot coronavirus vaccine was 66% effective in protecting against moderate to severe COVID-19 disease in Phase 3 trials, which was comprised of nearly 44,000 participants across eight countries.

Between the lines: The vaccine was 72% effective in the U.S., but only 57% effective in South Africa, where a more contagious variant has been spreading. It prevented 85% of severe infections and 100% of hospitalizations and deaths, according to the company.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

Ex-CDC director Tom Frieden on the next COVID-19 vaccines

Americans fortunate enough to receive COVID vaccines now, outside of clinical trials, are getting shots made by either Pfizer or Moderna. But newly released data from Novavax and Johnson & Johnson suggests that more vaccines could be on the way, with J&J's requiring a single dose.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the news and why it matters with Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, as COVID-19 variants spread globally.

Jan 29, 2021 - World

EU grants conditional approval of AstraZeneca vaccine

Photo: Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The European Commission on Friday granted conditional approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years and older.

Why it matters: This is the third vaccine to receive approval from the commission, coming hours after the Emergency Medicines Agency recommended its authorization.