U.S. President Donald Trump said a vaccine against the deadly coronavirus could be three or four weeks away, underscoring predictions made by U.S. public health officials and Pfizer Inc earlier this month.
Trump, speaking at a town hall hosted by ABC News in Philadelphia, defended his handling of the coronavirus crisis, and said a vaccine could be ready for distribution soon.
“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 you know could be three weeks, four weeks.”
Democrats have expressed concern that Trump is putting political pressure on government health regulators and scientists to approve a rushed vaccine in time to help turn around his uphill bid for reelection against challenger Joe Biden on November 3.
Experts including top US government infectious diseases doctor Anthony Fauci say vaccine approval is more likely toward the end of the year. At the ABC town hall Trump was asked why he’d downplayed the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has now killed close to 200,000 people in the US. Trump replied by saying: “I didn’t downplay it. I actually, in many ways, I up-played it in terms of action.”