'Right around that time': Trump says US could have coronavirus vaccine by 2020 election

Some experts fear the president may push a vaccination to market before it has been deemed safe enough for public use

Chris Riotta
New York
Thursday 06 August 2020 16:20 BST
Trump celebrates another candidate vaccine

Donald Trump has suggested a coronavirus vaccine could possibly be ready for market before the presidential election in November — even as his own White House and leading health experts said that's a very unlikely scenario.

The president was asked on Thursday whether he believed a vaccine would be ready before Election Day during an interview with Geraldo Rivera.

"I think in some cases, yes possible before," Mr Trump said. "But right around that time."

Mr Trump claimed a vaccine for Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, could be ready "sooner than the end of the year" on the radio programme, adding: "Could be much sooner."

The president's claims were in stark contrast from the recent reality check many health experts have delivered in recent weeks surrounding a timeline for multiple vaccination studies and trials taking place across the country.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, as well as a member of the White House coronavirus response task force, said in an interview that a vaccination would not be available until "several months" into 2021.

"I think as we get into 2021, several months in, that you would have [a] vaccine that would be widely available to people in the United States," the nation's leading infectious disease expert told the Washington Post's Bob Costa.

Dr Fauci also said during the Post Live event that he remained “a little sceptical” about the possibility of a vaccination available to the public before the end of the year, adding: “But, you know…anything is possible.”

Experts have meanwhile spoken out against the notion of rushing a vaccination to market before it can be deemed safe enough. Some fear the president may push a vaccination to market before it has been deemed safe enough for public use.

“There are a lot of people on the inside of this process who are very nervous about whether the administration is going to reach their hand into the Warp Speed bucket, pull out one or two or three vaccines, and say, ‘We’ve tested it on a few thousand people, it looks safe, and now we are going to roll it out.’” Dr Paul A. Offit, member of the vaccine advisory committee for the Food and Drug Administration, told the New York Times. “They are really worried about that, and they should be.”

The president has previously sought to reassure the public a vaccine would be available both quickly and safely thanks to his administration’s efforts.

At a White House press conference earlier this week, the president told reporters: “We’re balancing speed and safety.”

“We’re on pace to have a vaccine available this year, maybe far in advance of the end of the year,” he added, “and we’re mass-producing the most promising candidates in advance so that we’re ready immediately upon approval.”

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