Wilmington, United States, Sept 16, 2020 (AFP)
Presidential hopeful Joe Biden will address how to develop and distribute an effective Covid-19 vaccine Wednesday, challenging the optimistic predictions of his rival Donald Trump, whom the Democrat accuses of lying to Americans about the pandemic threat.
Whether the Trump administration can hurry a safe vaccine into wide production has become a focal point of the 2020 election campaign, in which polls show Biden leading Trump.
Biden has stressed he supports a rapid rollout of a vaccine, but only if it is shown to be safe and effective -- and if there is "full transparency" regarding the science of the work.
With Trump insisting that a vaccine was now just "weeks" away, a leading health expert in his own administration warned Wednesday that a vaccine for broad public use would not be available until mid-2021 at the earliest.
Biden, who has slowly ramped up appearances but has yet to match the campaign trail fervor of the Republican incumbent, was receiving a briefing in his home state Delaware from health experts on vaccine prospects.
The Democratic nominee will then deliver a speech on "developing and equitably distributing" a safe and effective vaccine, according to his team.
Experts say a coronavirus vaccine is among the best ways to halt the march of a pandemic that has killed more than 196,000 Americans.
At a town hall Tuesday, Trump accelerated his own already optimistic predictions, saying a vaccine may be available even before the November 3 presidential election.
"We're within weeks of getting it, you know -- could be three weeks, four weeks," he told a town hall question-and-answer session with voters in Pennsylvania aired on ABC.
Only hours earlier, speaking to Fox News, Trump had said a vaccine could come in "four weeks, it could be eight weeks."
But Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield testified before Congress Wednesday that any vaccine this year would not be for widespread use.
"I think there will be (a) vaccine that initially will be available sometime between November and December, but very limited supply and will have to be prioritized," he told a Senate panel.
"If you're asking me when is it going to be generally available to the American public so we can begin to take advantage of (a) vaccine to get back to our regular life, I think we're probably looking at late second quarter, third quarter 2021."
Democrats have expressed concern that Trump is putting political pressure on government health regulators and scientists to approve a rushed vaccine in time to help turn around his uphill bid for reelection.
Biden has voiced doubts about the president's timeline, telling donors earlier this month that "people don't trust a damn thing he says."
Trump also raised eyebrows when asked at the town hall why he had downplayed the gravity of the pandemic in its early months.
"I didn't downplay it," Trump replied. "I actually, in many ways, I up-played it in terms of action."
But Trump himself told journalist Bob Woodward during taped interviews that he had deliberately decided to "play it down" to avoid alarming Americans.
- 'Science knows' -
Trump has reiterated one of his most controversial views on the virus, insisting "it is going to disappear."
Challenged about how that would happen, he said "you'll develop like a herd mentality," apparently meaning the concept of herd immunity, when enough people have developed resistance to the disease to effectively stop transmission.
The president's town hall performance prompted criticism from Biden's camp.
"Trump just confirmed tonight, yet again, that even after eight months of letting the worst public health crisis in 100 years spiral out of control that not only does he not have a plan -- he doesn't have a clue," communications director Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.
During a trip to key swing state Florida on Tuesday to stump for Hispanic votes, Biden hammered Trump on his denial of the climate change threat.
When the president visited wildfire-ravaged California, he had said "I don't think science knows" whether or not climate change is intensifying weather conditions.
"Mr. President, science knows," Biden said.
Sumber : AFP
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