The trip down memory lane began when Pete Doocy, a reporter for the conservative network, asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday whether a comment Joe Biden made in 2020 is causing “vaccine hesitancy” today.
“At the time,” Mr Doocy asked, “when Donald Trump is out there saying we’re gonna have a vaccine in the next couple weeks, next couple months, and Joe Biden is out on the campaign trail saying, ‘Don’t trust Donald Trump,’ did that create any kind of vaccine hesitancy?”
In September 2020, then-candidate Biden said at a town hall, “I trust vaccines, I trust scientists, but I don’t trust Donald Trump. And at this moment, the American people can’t either.”
Mr Doocy asked if that comment may have caused some Americans to refuse the Covid-19 vaccines, which were developed during President Trump’s term.
“Not that we’ve seen in the data,” Ms Psaki responded. “I would note that at the time, just for context, the former president was also suggesting people inject versions of poison into their veins to cure Covid. So I think that’s a relevant point.”
Mr Trump made this infamous comment at a coronavirus briefing in April 2020.
“I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute,” the former president said then. “And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”
As doctors and scientists immediately pointed out, injecting a person with a disinfectant was very dangerous and could potentially lead to death.
Under the Biden administration, vaccinations began at a rapid pace, with about three million doses being administered per day by mid-April. Then the rate began to slow. By mid-July, the country was down to about 500,000 doses per day.
Many experts have pointed to right-wing disinformation as a cause of vaccine resistance, which may be why conservative states have particularly low vaccination rates – and have been hit hardest by the latest wave of Delta coronavirus infections.
In recent weeks, vaccination rates have modestly increased as the Biden administration has laid out new incentives and requirements for people to get the shot – and as the virus situation in red states has grown more deadly.
Mr Biden’s trust in Mr Trump, meanwhile, has not improved.
“I think it’s safe to say he still doesn’t trust Donald Trump,” Ms Psaki said on Wednesday. "So that hasn’t changed.”
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