WASHINGTON: Despite caution about the accelerated timeline by some U.S. public health officials, U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said a vaccine against COVID-19 could be three or four weeks away.
While defending his handling of the coronavirus crisis, Trump said at a town hall hosted by ABC News in Philadelphia, “We’re very close to having a vaccine,” he said. “If you want to know the truth, the previous administration would have taken perhaps years to have a vaccine because of the FDA and all the approvals. And we’re within weeks of getting it… Could be three weeks, four weeks and could be ready for distribution before the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 3”.
Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, top U.S. infectious disease expert told CNN earlier this month, that most experts believe a vaccine will be ready by November or December. “It is conceivable that you can have it by October, though I don’t think that that’s likely.”
Trump argued that his decision of imposing travel bans on China and Europe saved thousands, if not millions, of lives while bristling at tough questions from uncommitted voters and ABC News host George Stephanopoulos during the town hall meeting.
The United States has reported the highest number worldwide of nearly 6.6 million cases and nearly 195,000 deaths due COVID-19. When asked by an audience member why he would “downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities”, Trump denied understating the threat of the disease and repeated his early claim on in the pandemic that the virus would disappear on its own. He remarked, “Yeah, well, I didn’t downplay it. I actually, in many ways, I up-played it, in terms of action. My action was very strong”.
Earlier the Republican president, who is seeking reelection on Nov. 3, mocked on Twitter when he spoke about “herd mentality” instead of “herd immunity,” a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when enough people have become immune through vaccination or previous infections.