Trump hopes to have vaccine by October, stirs up controversy over vote
Washington, Sep 3 (efe-epa).- United States President Donald Trump said Thursday his country could begin distributing a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of October and insisted on asking his supporters in the key state of Pennsylvania to try and vote twice during elections, by mail and in person.
During a rally before hundreds of people on a runway at Latrobe airport (Pennsylvania), Trump reiterated his promise that the United States will get “a safe and effective vaccine in record time.”
“It really is possible that it could be distributed before the end of October, and that would be good. It would be good not because of the elections, but because we want to save people,” Trump was quick to clarify, specifically mentioning the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, one of the three developing a vaccine in the US.
Trump spoke a day after the governmental Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that they have asked all the states of the country to be prepared to distribute by the end of October or early November a possible vaccine against COVID-19.
The revelation raised concerns among some public health experts that the Trump administration may be pushing to accelerate the development of a vaccine, with the goal of having it ready and beginning distribution before the November 3 presidential election.
The nation’s top epidemiologist, Anthony Fauci, has recently said in interviews that a vaccine may be available for certain groups even before clinical trials end, in case preliminary data on its efficacy and safety are overwhelmingly positive.
At his rally, Trump also stirred controversy he himself generated Wednesday during a visit to another key state, North Carolina, in which he asked his followers to try to vote twice in order to test the security of the system ballot and make sure their ballot has been counted.
“Follow your vote,” Trump told Pennsylvania voters on Thursday as well. “What they have to do is vote early (by mail) and then go in person (Nov. 3) and make sure they have tabulated or counted that ballot, and if not, vote.”
“They have to make sure that their vote counts, because the only way they are going to beat us is by doing those kinds of things,” the president said, in a veiled accusation that the Democratic opposition plans to manipulate the outcome of the election.
Trump has maintained an offensive against postal voting for weeks, which many states are expanding due to the pandemic and which the president believes may favor fraud, despite the fact that several studies show that this is extremely unlikely.
Trying to vote twice in an election is illegal and in North Carolina a serious crime, but Trump insists he only wants to ensure that his supporters’ vote is counted and that there are election results Nov. 3, something increasingly unlikely due to the setbacks arising from the pandemic.
The president also used the rally to delve into his electoral banner of “law and order” in the context of protests against racism in the country, hours after his rival in November, Joe Biden, visited the family in Wisconsin of the African American Jacob Blake, paralyzed by police gunfire.
“Biden’s plan is to appease the domestic terrorists, and my plan is to arrest and prosecute them,” he said, without differentiating between the majority of peaceful protesters and the minority who have staged riots or altercations.
Trump also insisted on his 2016 campaign promise that Mexico will pay for the wall the US is building on the common border, something the neighboring country has refused to do.
“I have respectfully told Mexico, they are going to pay for the wall. And they understand it, they just don’t want to put it in writing, and that doesn’t seem bad to me,” he said.
Trump dedicated much of his speech to defending his health, after a book published this week stated that, when he visited a military hospital last November, a rumor rang out at the White House that Vice President Mike Pence should be ready to temporarily take power in case the president was under anesthesia.
The president falsely accused the media of having said that he suffered a series of “mini cerebral infarcts,” although it was he himself who brought that idea to light in a tweet on Tuesday, when he denied that this had happened. EFE-EPA