Senin, 07 September 2020

How Donald Trump and Joe Biden have turned the hunt for a coronavirus vaccine into a political football - ABC News

Every nation is waiting with bated breath for any news of a coronavirus vaccine.

None more so than the United States, which has recorded more cases (more than 6 million) and more deaths (almost 190,000) from COVID-19 than any other place on Earth, according to Johns Hopkins University.

But the US is in the midst of a bitter election race between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, former vice-president Joe Biden.

And not even a potential vaccine has escaped being drawn into the fray, becoming one more issue for the two major US parties to takes sides on.

Here's how the search for COVID-19 vaccine has become a political football.

Trump has been making promises about a vaccine for a while now

In early August, while talking to a radio show, Trump was asked about the prospect of a coronavirus vaccine. The President said a vaccine would arrive "sooner than the end of the year, could be much sooner".

"Sooner than November 3?" he was asked.

Later at the White House, he was asked if the development of a successful vaccine would help him in the election.

He said: "It wouldn't hurt. But I'm doing it, not for the election; I want to save a lot of lives."

Then came the conventions

At the recent party conventions, coronavirus was a major theme.

Democrats held their convention first and repeatedly blamed Trump's handling of the pandemic for so many Americans contracting the virus and so many dying.

Former US president Barack Obama said the "consequences" of Trump's "failures are severe".


Biden, meanwhile, accused his opponent of "waiting for a miracle".

At the Republican Convention a week later, vice-president Mike Pence tackled that statement head-on.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
Mike Pence says the United States is a "nation of miracles".

In his acceptance speech, Trump was equally explicit about a timeline for a vaccine.

"We will have a safe and effective vaccine this year, and together we will crush the virus," he said.

Kamala Harris entered the campaign — and the vaccine conversation

Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris talks while wearing a face mask.
Kamala Harris made headlines as she began campaigning without her running mate for the first time.(AP: Morry Gash)

As the campaign entered its final 60 days, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris sparked a war of words when she was asked in a weekend CNN interview if she would take a COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in the US before the election.

She argued scientists would be "muzzled" because Trump was focused on getting re-elected.

Defending his running mate, Biden accused Trump of saying "so many things that aren't true".

"I'm worried if we do have a really good vaccine, people are going to be reluctant to take it. So he's undermining public confidence," Biden said.

Trump hit back with one more promise

President Donald Trump listens to a reporter's question during a news conference
With the election drawing near, Donald Trump has ramped up his campaign activity.(AP: Patrick Semansky)

Dismissing her comments as "reckless anti-vaccine rhetoric" several days later, Trump said Harris's attack was designed to detract from the effort to quickly develop a vaccine.

Speaking to reporters today, Trump insisted he hadn't said a vaccine could be ready before November, although he had said that repeatedly and as recently as Friday, local time.

"What I said is by the end of the year, but I think it could even be sooner than that," he said about a vaccine.

"It could be during the month of October, actually could be before November."

"So contrary to all of the lies, the vaccine that they've politicised — they'll say anything and it's so dangerous — but the vaccine will be very safe and very effective and it'll be delivered very soon.

So what do the experts, not the politicians, say?

Anthony Fauci, the US Government's top infectious-disease expert and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, told CNN last week it was unlikely but "not impossible" a vaccine could win approval for use in October, instead of November or December.

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci listens as President Donald Trump speaks
Anthony Fauci and Donald Trump have clashed throughout the pandemic.(AP: Patrick Semansky)

Fauci added he was "pretty sure" a vaccine would not be approved for Americans unless it was both safe and effective.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has given assurances that Trump "will not in any way sacrifice safety" when it comes to a vaccine.

Executives of five top pharmaceutical companies have pledged no COVID-19 vaccines or treatments will be approved, even for emergency use, without proof they are safe and effective.

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2020-09-08 04:23:00Z

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