Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks about coronavirus vaccines after a briefing with public health experts in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday. Patrick Semansky / AP .
rocker legend Patrick Semansky / AP
Patrick Semansky / AP
Distributing a coronavirus vaccine or vaccines will be one of the biggest challenges the next president will face, Democratic candidate Joe Biden said on Wednesday.
“Developing a vaccine is only part of the battle. Distributing a vaccine to the entire population is as complex and difficult as one of the most sensitive military operations,” he said. said in prepared remarks in Wilmington, Del., after receiving a briefing from a panel of vaccine experts.
He added: “If I am elected president, I will start by implementing an effective distribution plan as soon as I take office.”
Biden detailed his plan to assure the public that any future vaccine, which he says will offer “a return to normalcy”, will be distributed fairly and provided to those most at risk first.
His remarks came before President Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday that the government expects to be able to begin distributing a coronavirus vaccine from “sometime in October” a times the approvals given, noting that “it could be a little later than that.” The president said at least 100 million doses should be available for distribution by the end of 2020.
That’s a more ambitious prediction than the timeline outlined by CDC Director Robert Redfield, who testified before a Senate panel earlier Wednesday that first responders could start getting vaccinated in November or December. He said a vaccine would not be widely available until the second or third quarter of 2021.
“I think he made a mistake in saying that,” Trump said, noting that he called Redfield after his testimony. “I think he was confused,” Trump said, noting that it was “incorrect information”.
In his remarks, Biden criticized Trump’s comments in an ABC News town hall on Tuesday, in which he said he would not have changed the way he deals with the pandemic.
Biden also attempted to draw a clear line between his distrust of whether the president would inject politics into vaccine approval and his confidence in scientists and vaccines in general.
“Let me be clear: I trust vaccines. I trust scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump,” Biden said. “And right now the American people can’t either.”
The coronavirus vaccine has emerged as one of the main challenges of the election campaign in recent weeks, given that a vaccine is essential both to end the public health crisis and to revive a struggling economy.
Biden alluded to the president’s recent comments on the vaccine schedule, calling them irresponsible.
“Scientific breakthroughs don’t care about calendars more than the virus. They certainly don’t adhere to election cycles,” Biden said. “Their timing, approval and distribution should never be skewed by political considerations.”
Trump’s language and predictions left Democrats worried that the Trump administration could politicize the vaccine development process and rush to approve one early for political reasons.
“One of the problems with the way he plays with politics is that he has said so many things that are not true,” Biden said last week. “I’m worried if we have a really good vaccine, people will hesitate to take it. … If I could get vaccinated tomorrow, I would. If it cost me the election, I’d do it. We need a vaccine and we need it now. “
In turn, Trump has taken concerns over vaccine approval standards to describe Democrats as promoting anti-vaccination sentiments.
“Now Biden has launched a public campaign against the vaccine, which is so bad because we have some amazing vaccines coming up,” Trump said at a press conference last week.
NPR White House editor-in-chief Roberta Rampton contributed reporting.
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