Donald Trump on Tuesday called therapeutic drugs to treat coronavirus "more important" than a vaccine just hours after his administration cut a $1.6bn deal to give taxpayer funds to a Maryland company that has never brought a product to market to develop 100m does of a vaccine.
Therapeutic medicines "get you better," he said after his administration struck its largest deal yet towards vaccine development, this time with an unproven company, Novavax. He ignored the fact that a proven vaccine would make Americans immune from catching and spreading the disease.
The president began an event at the White House on opening schools in the fall by touting what he described as a "tenfold" drop in the US coronavirus death toll and what he described as a recovering American economy.
"Deaths are way down from this horrible 'China virus,'" he said, using what many see as a racist term for the respiratory disease.
Even amid high unemployment that could again soar amid a spike in confirmed cases, Mr Trump said the "economy is coming back and it's coming back strongly."
He said US stock market values are nearly back to where they were "at the height of the market."
Democratic lawmakers say, however, that the economy is in tatters.
"Unemployment continues to be higher than any previous period since World War II. We have reached 15 straight weeks of more than 1 million Americans applying for unemployment insurance and tens of thousands of new coronavirus cases reported each day, as the critical lifelines that are helping to keep American families and communities above water expire," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement last week.
"Time is of the essence, and President Trump and Republicans must come to the table to work with House Democrats to deliver the resources and support the American people desperately need," she said.
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