Trump avoids election in 1st public comment after 8 days

Washington, Nov 13 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump did not mention the Nov. 3 election Friday as he spoke to reporters for the first time in eight days during a briefing at the White House on efforts against the coronavirus, which has claimed 243,000 lives in the United States.

The Republican incumbent has refused to concede defeat despite results showing that Democratic challenger Joe Biden enjoys a lead of more than 5 million ballots in the nationwide popular vote and has an edge of 306-232 in electoral votes.

US media outlets, including Trump-friendly Fox News, acclaimed Biden as president-elect last Saturday based on the projected outcome in Pennsylvania, which put the former vice president over the 270 electoral votes needed to win.

But Trump has insisted repeatedly that Democrats are trying to steal the election and continues to pursue court challenges in a quixotic bid to overturn the outcome.

At one point during Friday’s event, however, Trump seemed to acknowledge – if only implicitly – that his tenure in the White House may be approaching an end.

Though the US has seen upwards of 100,000 new Covid-19 cases every day for the last 10 days to push the total to 10.7 million, the president again rejected the idea of a national lockdown.

“I will not – this administration will not – be doing a lockdown. 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,” he said in the White House Rose Garden.

Biden, 77, is to be sworn-in as president on Jan. 20, 2021.

Trump preferred to focus on what he called the “single greatest mobilization in US history,” referring to the administration’s push to develop a vaccine through the mechanism of Operation Warp Speed.

On Monday, US drug-maker Pfizer Inc. announced that the vaccine it is developing with Germany’s BioNTech has demonstrated an efficacy rate of above 90 percent in Phase 3 clinical trials.

Though a Pfizer executive said it was not part of Operation Warp Speed, the company subsequently acknowledged that it is connected to the project by virtue of an agreement to sell a minimum of 100 million doses of the vaccine to the federal government for $1.95 billion.

“No medical breakthrough has ever been achieved this quickly, this rapidly. Operation Warp Speed is unequaled and unrivaled anywhere in the world,” Trump said Friday.

Pfizer’s initial attempt to distance itself from Operation Warp Speed was an “unfortunate misrepresentation,” the 74-year-old president said.

Mass inoculation will “effectively end this phase of the pandemic,” he said.

“As soon as April, the vaccine will be available to the entire general population with the exception of places like New York state, where, for political reasons, the governor decided to say he wants to take his time on the vaccine,” Trump said, alluding to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s complaint last month that the White House plan for vaccine distribution was too reliant on pharmacy chains such as CVS and Walgreens.

Trump declined to take questions and ignored shouted queries from reporters as he walked away from the podium. EFE ssa/dr

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