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New Flashpoint in the 2020 Campaign: COVID Vaccine

Trump says Biden, Harris must apologize for 'anti-vaccine rhetoric'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2020 1:18 AM CDT
Updated Sep 8, 2020 6:53 AM CDT

(Newser) – President Trump on Monday used the term "anti-vaccine" to describe his Election 2020 opponent and his running mate after they remarked on whether or not they'd get a coronavirus vaccine if one becomes available before the election. Here's what went down, per NBC News and the Hill:

  • Kamala Harris: On Sunday, the Democratic vice presidential nominee said on CNN's State of the Union, in response to the question of whether she would trust a vaccine Trump claimed to be effective, "There's very little that we can trust that can comes out of Donald Trump's mouth." She said the president "has created false expectations for the American people and American families" and has prioritized whatever is "politically expedient" over public health. "And so, no, I would not trust his word. I would trust the word of public health experts and scientists," she concluded, before noting she believes such experts might be "muzzled," "suppressed," and "sidelined." "I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump, and it would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he's talking about," she said.

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  • Joe Biden: At a campaign stop in Pennsylvania on Monday, reporters asked the Democratic presidential contender a similar question, and he echoed Harris' remarks. "I would want to see what the scientists said" and be given "full transparency" from the administration, Biden said, adding that he's "worried if we do have a really good vaccine people are going to be reluctant to take it" since Trump "is undermining public confidence" in the process. "If I could get a vaccine tomorrow, I'd do it," Biden concluded. "If it cost me the election, I'd do it. We need a vaccine, and we need it now. As quickly as we can get it. We have to listen to the scientists."
  • Trump: Trump responded later Monday at a White House press conference. Biden and Harris "should immediately apologize for the reckless anti-vaccine rhetoric that they are talking right now, talking about endangering lives," he said. "It undermines science, and what happens is all of the sudden you'll have this incredible vaccine and because of that fake rhetoric, it's a political rhetoric ... that's all that is." He added, "The vaccine will be very safe and very effective, and it will be delivered very soon," indeed, "in record time."
  • Biden campaign: An MSNBC reporter fact-checked Trump's response and noted that all Biden and Harris said was that they wouldn't simply take Trump's word on the matter of a vaccine. The Biden campaign retweeted that assessment.
  • Before the election? As for when a vaccine will be available, Trump said at his presser, "Could even have it during the month of October. We'll have the vaccine soon, maybe before a special date. You know what date I'm talking about." But experts, including the chief scientific adviser of the administration's Operation Warp Speed program, have cast doubt on the likelihood of that happening. Another federal official, this one unnamed, notes to CNN, "I don't know any scientist involved in this effort who thinks we will be getting shots into arms any time before Election Day."
  • The FDA's take: Trump claimed two weeks ago that the "deep state" is slowing the approval of a vaccine, and Bloomberg reports that in an effort to counter that rhetoric, the Food and Drug Administration is telling staff not to let political banter influence agency decisions. The organization is also sticking to standards set back in June for what a vaccine will need to have in order to get FDA approval.
  • Big Pharma's take: Stat reports that, in what it calls "a highly unusual turn of events," the pharmaceutical industry will issue a "rebuke" to Trump. Nine vaccine makers will reportedly issue a pledge Tuesday not to submit any COVID vaccine for approval until significant safety and efficacy data is available. A trade group released a similar pledge last week.
(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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