A safe and effective coronavirus vaccine could become available as soon as next month, President Donald Trump hinted Monday, saying, “You could have a very big surprise coming up.”
Operation Warp Speed
As part of the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic, Trump announced in May a project called “Operation Warp Speed” that is essentially a public-private partnership and competition to rapidly develop, test, and distribute a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19.
The president has for some time been suggesting that a safe and effective vaccine could be ready for the general public by the end of the year.
His recent prediction that one could be ready by October was met with accusations from his political rivals — particularly Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris — that he is rushing the completion of a vaccine prior to the upcoming election for political purposes and, as such, any such vaccine shouldn’t be considered trustworthy.
Vaccine could be ready in October
During a press briefing at the White House on Monday, Trump said that his critics, such as Harris, “should immediately apologize for the reckless anti-vaccine rhetoric that they are talking right now, talking about endangering lives. And it undermines science.”
“And what’s happening is, all of a sudden, you’ll have this incredible vaccine, and because of that fake rhetoric — it’s political rhetoric; that’s all it is. Just for politics,” he continued. “Because now they see we’ve done an incredible job, and in speed like nobody has ever seen before.”
Trump then noted that a vaccine could be ready in October and said, “But the vaccine will be very safe and very effective, and it will be delivered very soon. You could — you could have a very big surprise coming up. I’m sure you’ll be very happy. But the people will be happy. The people of the world will be happy.”
Trying to disparage an achievement
Later, while taking questions from reporters, the topic of a vaccine and Trump’s suggestion that one could be ready by October — and in light of his complaints that his critics were politicizing the potential vaccine — the topic came up for discussion once again.
The president reiterated his assertion that his critics were seeking to transform the achievement of a rapidly produced vaccine into a “negative” to harm him politically.
“But she’s talking about disparaging a vaccine so that people don’t think the achievement was a great achievement,” he said of Harris. “I don’t want the achievement for myself, I want something that’s going to make people better, that people aren’t going to get sick with. That includes therapeutics, where we’re doing equally as well.”
It’s about saving lives
As to whether his own pronouncements of the impending availability of an effective vaccine prior to the election were just as political as the critiques from his rivals, Trump disagreed: “I’m saying that because we want to save a lot of lives.”
“The fast — with me, it’s: The faster, the better,” he continued. “With somebody else, maybe they would say it politically, but I’m saying it in terms of this is what we need. We have to have — if get the vaccine early, that’s a great thing, whether it’s politics or not.”