On July 22, 2021, a meandering and seemingly nonsensical quote supposedly spoken by U.S. President Joe Biden started circulating on social media.
The alleged quote reads: “And the question is whether or not we should be in a position where are why can’t the experts say we know that this virus is in fact its going to be our excuse we know why the all the drugs approved are not temporarily approved and but permanently approved, that’s underway too.”
This is, generally speaking, an accurate quote from Biden’s appearance during a CNN town hall on July 22, 2021. The text in the above-displayed does not contain much punctuation, however, which may make Biden’s message seem extra incoherent. Here’s how this quote was presented in CNN’s rush transcript of the event:
And the question is whether or not we should be in a position where you are — why can’t the experts say we know that this virus is, in fact — is going to be — or, excuse me — we know why all the drugs approved are not temporarily approved, but permanently approved. That’s underway, too. I expect that to occur quickly.
Biden made this statement in response to a question from CNN reporter Don Lemon about when children under the age of 12 will be able to get vaccinated. Biden said “soon, I believe,” and when Lemon pushed him to elaborate, Biden said that scientists were evaluating the data to make sure that the vaccines were safe for children.
Here’s the full exchange. The viral quote has been placed in bold text:
MR. LEMON: Well, let me ask — let me follow up on her question, asking: When will children under 12 be able to get vaccinated?
THE PRESIDENT: Soon, I believe. Now, look, one of the things that I committed to do when I got elected — I said —
MR. LEMON: How soon is “soon,” Mr. President? Not to —
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I — and let me he- — let me finish the question — the answer. “Soon” in the sense that I do not tell any scientists what they should do. I do not interfere. (Applause.)
And so they are doing — they are doing the examinations now — the testing now, and making the decision now. When they are ready, when they’ve done all the scientific need to be done to determine children at ages 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, they, in fact, are — all have different makeups. They’re developing. They’re trying to figure out whether or not there’s a vaccination that would affect one child that’s at such and such an age and not another child. That’s underway.
Just like the other question, there’s a logical — and I’ve heard you speak about it because you always — I’m not being solicitous, but you — you’re always straight up about what you’re doing.
And the question is whether or not we should be in a position where you are — why can’t the — the — the experts say, “We know that this virus is, in fact — it’s going to be…” — or, excuse me — “We know why all the drugs approved are not temporarily approved, but permanently approved.” That’s underway too. I expect that to occur quickly.
MR. LEMON: Well, that means — you mean for the FDA?
THE PRESIDENT: For the FDA.
MR. LEMON: Yeah. So, what do you —
THE PRESIDENT: The Federal Drug Administration.
MR. LEMON: You said that you’re talking to scientists, though, but what — what are they telling you, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: What they’re telling me is, “Let us decide, based on scientific data, in how we proceed. Do it the way we would ordinarily do it.”
Look, for example, everybody talks about how, you know, this virus came — this — this — the drugs that are designed to kill the virus came along so quickly. They’ve been working on it for two decades. There’s nothing quick about this. It’s been over two decades.
So people said, “I’m not taking a drug that was approved so quickly.” It’s been two decades. The truth is we haven’t said it enough to people to allay their feals [sic]. There’s nothing — their fears. This is nothing that just happened yesterday and they said, “Well, let’s take a shot on this.” And there’s a process. Usually the process takes the better part of a year or more to get some of these things decided.
But the expectation — they’re not promising me any specific date — but my expectation, talking to the group of scientists we put together — over 20 of them, plus others in the field — is that sometime maybe in the beginning of the school year — at the end of August, beginning of September, October — they’ll get a final approval saying the FDA said, “No, this is it. It’s good.”
But again, one last thing. I — we don’t talk enough to you about this, I don’t think. One last thing that’s really important is: We’re not in a position where we think that any virus — including the Delta virus, which is much more transmissible and more deadly in terms of non — unvaccinated people — the vi- — the various shots that people are getting now cover that. They’re — you’re okay. You’re not going to — you’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations.
You can view this exchange on CNN.com. It is viewable during “Part 1” of the CNN town hall. Lemon asks this question around the 6:15 mark.