Washington, Aug 6 (efe-epa).- The president of the United States said Thursday that a coronavirus vaccine may be ready by around Election Day on Nov. 3, while also touting his own efforts to expedite the process.
Donald Trump also acknowledged Thursday that it could help him electorally if a vaccine is available for public use by then, but he said his chief concern is saving lives.
“Sooner than the end of the year, could be much sooner,” Trump said on journalist Geraldo Rivera’s radio program when asked when a Covid-19 vaccine will be ready.
Rivera followed up by asking if one might be ready before Election Day.
“I think in some cases, yes. Possible before, but right around that time,” Trump said. “We have great, fantastic companies. These are the best companies in the world.”
The Republican head of state, however, also acknowledged that other countries also are involved in the race for the vaccine and said “let’s see how they do.”
Trump said in another moment of the interview that his only intention is to save lives.
“I’m rushing it. I am. I’m pushing everybody,” Trump told Rivera, adding that if a different president were in office there would not be the same sense of urgency and it would take two years to have a vaccine.
Later Thursday, in remarks to reporters at the White House before visiting a Whirlpool plant in Clyde, Ohio, Trump reiterated that a vaccine could be ready around Nov. 3.
“I’m optimistic that it’ll be probably around that date. I believe we’ll have the vaccine before the end of the year certainly, but around that date, yes. I think so,” he said.
Asked if that development could help his bid for re-election, Trump said the health aspect was more important than politics.
“It wouldn’t hurt. It wouldn’t hurt. But … I’m doing it, not for the election. I want it fast because I want to save a lot of lives,” the president said.
Trump’s remarks contrast with those by officials in his administration who have said the vaccine could be ready by the end of the year or the start of 2021.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said a vaccine probably will not be widely available for all Americans until well into 2021.
Trump faces an uphill battle for re-election due to the twin challenges of the pandemic and an economic crisis triggered by the states’ coronavirus-triggered lockdowns.
The US has the world’s highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths attributed to Covid-19, figures that are partly attributable to the country’s high amount of testing and large population.
Economically speaking, meanwhile, 2020 has been a disaster for the US. The country’s unemployment rate was at a 50-year low of 3.5 percent in February but at the end of June it stood at 11.1 percent.
The US gross domestic product, meanwhile, plunged by an unprecedented annual rate of 32.9 percent in the second quarter due to the states’ stay-at-home orders.
Democrats on Capitol Hill want the Republican-controlled Senate to approve a more than $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill that would more or less match what the Democrat-led House of Representatives passed in May.
That amount would exceed the record $2.2 trillion Covid-19 relief package that Congress passed in late March.