Fact checking Biden’s virus claims made during Michigan visit to Pfizer plant

President Biden toured Pfizer manufacturing site in Portage ahead of delivering national remarks

Local 4's Grant Hermes takes a closer look at claims made by President Biden during a trip to Michigan's Pfizer facility in Portage.

President Biden visited Michigan’s Pfizer manufacturing site in Portage on Friday, where he delivered remarks to the nation about his administration’s efforts to ramp up coronavirus vaccinations across the U.S.

During his first official visit to Michigan since elected president, Biden toured the Pfizer facility and got a first-hand look at how COVID-19 vaccines are stored and shipped before discussing new distribution strategies.

While Biden’s remarks Friday were largely aspirational or congratulatory, there were a few things that needed to be fact checked.

Local 4′s Grant Herms ran some of Biden’s claims through our Trust Index -- see what we found below.

Ramping up vaccine production

First, we’ll start with a claim Biden made about the administration’s effort to ramp up vaccine production in the U.S.

Biden statement: “When we discovered that vaccine manufacturers weren’t being prioritized when it came to scrutinizing and securing supplies they needed, we fixed that problem and got them what they needed.”

We’re calling this one: be careful.

The Defense Production Act is generally used to get companies to change production for national interests. While the Biden administration is using the DPA in a more targeted way than the Trump Administration was, the Trump White House did initially use it to encourage vaccine development at a time when the vaccine was far from production-ready, and they instead turned to other ways to incentivize pharmaceutical companies to work on the vaccine.

It is fair for Biden to claim that his DPAs helped speed up the supply chain, but his statement ignores some of the groundwork laid by the previous president.

Be Careful

After reviewing this topic, we've found some issues - Be Careful.

What is the Trust Index?

Number of vaccinations administered

Next, we’re examining a claim Biden made about the number of vaccinations being administered every day in the U.S.

Biden statement: “We’re averaging 1.7 million a day. Soon we’ll be at 50 million, and I’m confident we’ll exceed the number.”

We’re also calling this one: be careful.

The information Biden presented in this statement requires context.

Biden was referring to his commitment to have 100 million shots administered in American arms during his first 100 days in office. The country surpassed the 50 million shots mark around Valentine’s Day and 50 million fully vaccinated Americans are expected by the end of March -- but those shots are administered over time, and are not taking place in one day, as the president’s statement may appear to suggest.

Be Careful

After reviewing this topic, we've found some issues - Be Careful.

What is the Trust Index?

Number of hungry Americans amid pandemic

Next, we’re looking at a claim President Biden made about the number of Americans who have gone hungry amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden statement: “24 million adults, 11 million children don’t have enough food to eat. And unless you think I’m exaggerating, think of those scenes you’ve seen on the television with cars lined up, which seemed like miles.”

We’re calling this: true.

Though, it’s important to note that the specific numbers are difficult to track, and the president may be underselling the problem.

It looks like President Biden is using USDA numbers taken during the pandemic, but before the full extent of the pandemic hit. According to the non profit Feeding America, Biden’s numbers were right early on in the pandemic, but they’re projected to get much worse: closer to 50 million hungry people, including 17 million children, for all of 2020.

It's True

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What is the Trust Index?

When talking about the vaccine rollout, President Biden called the Michigan grocery chain “Meijers.” We thought long and hard about this one, and decided...we’re just going to stay out of it.

Biden outlines plan to ramp up US vaccine rollout while at Michigan Pfizer facility

During his first visit to Michigan since elected president, Joe Biden toured the Pfizer manufacturing site in Kalamazoo County Friday, thanking all employees during his live remarks for their effort to help vaccinate Americans against the coronavirus.

Following his tour of Pfizer’s largest manufacturing site, addressing the nation, President Biden thanked the Pfizer employees for their role in producing hundreds of millions of doses of the much-needed coronavirus vaccine. Biden said the advancement of COVID-19 vaccines was a “miracle of science,” especially after health experts initially believed it could take six to eight years to develop a vaccine.

After criticizing the previous administration’s lack of a national vaccine strategy, Biden outlined his administration’s initiative to ramp up coronavirus vaccine production and distribution, which he called the “most difficult operational challenge this nation has faced.”

President Biden says that the average daily number of people being vaccinated in the U.S. nearly doubled from the week before he took office to an average of about 1.7 million people receiving vaccines each day. With this new average, Biden claims that the nation is not only on track to surpass his commitment of 100 million shots-in-arms in his first 100 days in office, but he expects to exceed that number. Critics have previously argued that 100 million doses was an inadequate goal to begin with, and hoped that distribution pace would be increased when possible.

Read more about Biden’s visit and remarks here.

About the Authors:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.