Gliding over significant challenges still to come, President Trump on Friday offered a rosy update on the race for a vaccine for the resurgent coronavirus as he delivered his first public remarks since his defeat by President-elect Joe Biden. Trump still did not concede the election, and he did not take questions from reporters. He spoke from the Rose Garden as the nation sets records for confirmed cases of COVID-19, and as hospitalizations near critical levels and fatalities climb to the highest levels since the spring. He said a vaccine would ship in "a matter of weeks" to vulnerable populations, the AP reports, though the Food and Drug Administration has not yet been asked to grant the necessary emergency approvals. Public health experts worry that Trump’s refusal to take aggressive action on the pandemic or to coordinate with the Biden team will only worsen the effects of the virus and hinder the nation’s ability to swiftly distribute a vaccine next year.
As states add restrictions, Trump asked Americans to remain "vigilant." But he ruled out imposing restrictions and appeared to acknowledge that the decision won't be his much longer. "This administration will not be going to a lockdown," he said. "Hopefully whatever happens in the future, who knows, which administration it will be I guess time will tell, but I can tell you this administration will not go to a lockdown." Biden has not endorsed a shutdown, but he appealed Friday for Trump to take "urgent action" to slow the virus. Trump said vaccines are ready and merely awaiting approval—and would be given "to high-risk individuals right away." In fact, there’s no guarantee that Pfizer's shot, the front-runner, will get rapid authorization for emergency use. Even if it does, there's no information yet on whether it works in older adults or just younger, healthier adults. Nor does Pfizer have a stockpile ready to ship; initial batches would be small and targeted to still-to-be-determined populations. (Dr. Anthony Fauci is enthusiastic about vaccine progress.)