President Donald Trump said Thursday that the nation could have a vaccine for the coronavirus available ‘sooner’ than the end of the year – indicating it could be available around the Nov. 3 election.
‘Sooner than the end of the year, could be much sooner,’ said Trump. Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci in public remarks has frequently referenced the possibility of a vaccine around the end of the year, but with heding.
‘Sooner than November 3?’ interviewer Geraldo Rivera asked the president on his radio show.
‘I think in some cases, yes possible before, but right around that time,’ Trump said.
‘I want it fast because I want to save a lot of lives,’ Trump said after optimistic comments about getting a coronavirus vaccine available around the time of the election
Trump told reporters at the White House he was ‘optimistic that it will be probably around that date,’ and did not shy from speculating it might help his reelection when asked about it.
‘It wouldn’t hurt. It wouldn’t hurt,’ Trump said, adding: ‘But I’m doing it not for the election. I want it fast because I want to save a lot of lives.’
Amid stalled negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in the Capitol, Trump is also reasserting threats to act unilaterally to try to push through a payroll tax cut that has gone nowhere in Congress.
He tweeted shortly before heading out on a trip: ‘Upon departing the Oval Office for Ohio, I’ve notified my staff to continue working on an Executive Order with respect to Payroll Tax Cut, Eviction Protections, Unemployment Extensions, and Student Loan Repayment Options.’
Trump told reporters traveling on Air Force One he would take action ‘probably tomorrow afternoon’ or Saturday morning, noting a deal with lawmakers – who ordinarily enact tax legislation that must be signed by the president to become law – was still possible.
Negotiators have been stymied on extending expired $600 unemployment payments, protections for tenants who can’t make rent, and other matters.
Fauci told the House several days ago: ‘We hope that by the time we get into late fall and early winter, we will have in fact a vaccine that we can say that would be safe and effective. One can never guarantee the safety or effectiveness unless you do the trial, but we are cautiously optimistic this will be successful,’ he said.
Trump’s comments on the vaccine come as the U.S. spends billions to build up a stockpile of vaccine that has yet to be proven to work, as a way to speed ultimate delivery. He also continued his push for schools to reopen.
The coronavirus was just one area where Trump was upbeat and optimistic during an interview, where he told DACA recipients in danger of losing their protected immigration status would be okay.
‘DACA’s gonna work out, Geraldo,’ Trump told his interviewer, who told the president he backs him on his controversial border wall but wants to see relief for those who came here as illegal immigrant children and got protections under President Barack Obama.
‘Just tell people to relax. We’re using it for other purposes,’ Trump told him.
Trump also suggested federal prosecutor John Durham would bring criminal charges in his probe of alleged misconduct in the Russia probe.
‘We caught them spying on my campaign,’ Trump fumed, after tweeting a video with sensational allegations against Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton.
‘We caught them doing very bad things. It’s treasonous. It’s everything, and we’ll see what happens with Durham. Durham is coming back with a report. More than a report. I guess. I think it’s not a report. I’m not interested in the report,’ Trump continued.
‘But Durham’s coming back and I hope it’s going to be soon and I would imagine he’s got plenty. All you have to do is read the newspapers to see what they have.’
The president is also promising progress immediately after Election Day, as he trails rival Joe Biden in the polls.
‘The first week after the victory, a lot of things will get done,’ he told Rivera.