Thrusting the issue of a coronavirus vaccine to the center of the campaign, Joe Biden said he trusted vaccines, but not a politicized development process. His comments came as the president publicly rebuked the top federal scientist.
Iâm profoundly grateful to the scientists and the researchers, working tirelessly to ensure that a safe and effective vaccine becomes a reality as soon as possible. These scientists carry the hopes of our nation, our entire nation, and the entire world. When their work comes to fruition, and it will, there will be no doubt it will save lives. But scientific breakthroughs donât care about calendars anymore than the virus does. They certainly donât adhere to election cycles, and their timing, their approval and their distribution should never, ever be distorted by political considerations. It should be determined by science and safety alone. A vaccine would offer a way back to normalcy and a path toward better days for all of us. Not only here, but around the world. But itâs not going to happen overnight. Once we have it, itâs going to take months to distribute it to the entire population. Iâm more hopeful than ever in the power of science to get us there. One thing is certain: We canât allow politics to interfere with the vaccine in any way. Americans have had to endure President Trumpâs incompetence and dishonesty when it comes to testing and personal protective equipment. We canât afford to repeat those fiascos when it comes to a vaccine. So let me be clear, I trust vaccines. I trust scientists, but I donât trust Donald Trump. At this moment, the American people canât either.
With deaths from the coronavirus nearing 200,000 in the United States, Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday assailed President Trump for playing politics with a potential coronavirus vaccine, saying he did not trust Mr. Trump to determine when a vaccine was ready for Americans.
âLet me be clear: I trust vaccines,â Mr. Biden said. âI trust scientists. But I donât trust Donald Trump, and at this moment, the American people canât either.â
Shortly after Mr. Bidenâs speech in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Trump seemed to lend credence to the former vice presidentâs criticism by publicly rebuking the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for saying that widespread vaccination might not be possible until the middle of next year. Speaking during an evening briefing at the White House, the president also kept up an attack line against Mr. Biden, misleadingly accusing him of âpromoting his anti-vaccine theories.â
In his speech, Mr. Biden thrust the issue of a coronavirus vaccine to center stage in the presidential race, expressing grave concern over the political pressure he said Mr. Trump was exerting over the governmentâs approval process and accusing him of trying to rush out a vaccine for electoral gain.
âScientific breakthroughs donât care about calendars any more than the virus does,â he said. âThey certainly donât adhere to election cycles. And their timing and their approval and their distribution should never, ever be distorted by political considerations. It should be determined by science and safety alone.â
Mr. Biden delivered his remarks after receiving a briefing on the coronavirus vaccine from top national health experts, including Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former surgeon general.
As Mr. Trump, eager for a political victory, continues to suggest that a vaccine could be ready before Election Day, that prospect could become a significant campaign issue in the final stretch â if it hasnât already.
The presidentâs comments that one could be rolled out before Nov. 3 have unsettled health officials, who worry that Mr. Trump is creating the impression that a vaccine might not be properly vetted at a time when the public is already concerned about political interference in the approval process.
The president accused Mr. Biden last week of using the pandemic âfor political gainâ and falsely claimed that his opponent had âlaunched a public campaignâ against a coronavirus vaccine.
And Senator Kamala Harris of California, Mr. Bidenâs running mate, said this month that if Mr. Trump assured the nation that a vaccine was safe, she would ânot take his word for it.â
Mr. Biden said Wednesday that he would personally take a vaccine if scientists said it was safe, even if it were approved under Mr. Trumpâs watch. âAbsolutely, do it, yes,â he said, answering a question from a reporter.
In recent days, Mr. Trump has continued to make hopeful remarks about a vaccine. During a town-hall-style event broadcast by ABC News on Tuesday night, he said that âweâre very close to having the vaccineâ and hinted that one could be ready in âthree weeks, four weeks.â
And during his briefing on Wednesday, Mr. Trump said a vaccine would be announced âthis month, next month,â and boasted that it had been developed âin a level of time that nobody thought was possible because of what we did with our F.D.A. in terms of streamlining it.â
Mr. Trumpâs timeline has confounded many health experts, however, including Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the C.D.C., who estimated during a Senate hearing on Wednesday that a vaccine could be available for limited use by the end of the year, and for wider distribution by the middle of next year. In his briefing, Mr. Trump publicly undermined Dr. Redfield, saying he thought the director had âmade a mistake when he said that.â
âItâs just incorrect information,â Mr. Trump continued. âI called him and he didnât tell me that and I think he got the message maybe confused.â
More than 30 possible coronavirus vaccines are now being tested in people, with three vaccines in late-stage clinical trials in the United States.
During his speech on Wednesday, Mr. Biden again denounced Mr. Trumpâs handling of the pandemic, in what has become one of his most pointed attacks of the general election campaign. Asserting that Mr. Trump âstill doesnât have a plan to bring us out of this crisis,â Mr. Biden warned that the outbreak would continue to get worse.
âIt wonât go away like a miracle,â Mr. Biden said, adding that even if a vaccine became available, it would not be available for most Americans until âwell intoâ 2021.
âWeâre heading into a very dangerous autumn,â Mr. Biden said, citing a model that projected that numbers of cases and deaths would begin to rise in November.
Asked by a reporter how he would carry out a national mask mandate, which he has previously supported, Mr. Biden said he believed he would have the legal authority as president to enforce one.
âOur legal team thinks I can do that based upon the degree to which thereâs a crisis in those states, and how bad things are for the country and if we donât do it, what happens,â he said. If it were determined that he had the legal authority to sign an executive order mandating masks, he said, he would.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. assailed President TrumpÂ for playing politics with a potential coronavirus vaccine, thrusting the issue to the center of the campaign.
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News – Biden, Seizing on Worries of a Rushed Vaccine, Warns Trump Canât Be Trusted