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Biden’s chief of staff says inauguration will be ‘scaled down’ due to coronavirus

Mr Biden’s swearing in as president in January is likely to be a much smaller occasion than previous events because of the continued spread of coronavirus.

Ron Klain told ABC’s This Week that the 20 January ceremony would see “scaled down versions of the existing traditions.”

“I think it’s going to definitely have to be changed,” said Mr Klain.

“We’ve started some consultations with House and Senate leadership on that. 

“Obviously this is not going to be the same kind of inauguration we’ve had in the past.”

The pandemic continues to surge across the US with more than 255,000 deaths and 12 million cases since it began.

The country saw 200,000 new cases reported on Friday and 177,000 on Saturday according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Mr Klain said that the inauguration would be consistent with the cautious and pragmatic election campaign of Mr Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris.

“They got a lot of grief for that. They got attacked for that relentlessly by President Trump for the way in which they campaigned, safely, to try to prevent the spread of the disease,” he said.

“They are going to try to have an inauguration that honours the importance and the symbolic meaning of the moment but also does not result in the spread of the disease. That’s our goal.

“We know people want to celebrate. There is something here to celebrate. We just want to try to find a way to do it as safely as possible.”

Pfizer and Moderna have both recently announced highly successful vaccine trials and people could start getting the shots beginning on 11 December.

Their vaccine requires two shots received three weeks apart and has proven to be 95 per cent effective with no major health concerns.

Pfizer says they will be able to give the vaccine to 25 million people by the end of the year.

An estimated 70 per cent of the country needs to be vaccinated to achieve “herd immunity”, which could be achieved by May the government’s chief vaccine adviser said on Sunday.