Trump claims US will have COVID-19 vaccine by year-end but won't mind if another country finds cure first
President Donald Trump has expressed confidence that the vaccine for the deadly coronavirus will be available by the end of 2020. The Republican, who will be seeking reelection in another six months, said in a virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday (May 3) night that the US was ‘pushing very hard’ towards getting the cure that has claimed over 247,470 lives worldwide. The US has seen more than 67,000 of those deaths, the highest by any country.
Trump, who was speaking to Fox News channel hosts Bret Baier and Martha McCullum in the virtual town hall, said: “We think we'll have a vaccine by the end of this year. And we're pushing very hard. We're building supply lines now and we don't even have the final vaccine.” He named companies like Johnson & Johnson trying to make a difference.
The show also had a two-hour question-and-answer session where common Americans posed questions to Trump via video. He was joined by Vice-President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for the concluding 30 minutes. During the commercial breaks, Trump’s long-time aide Hope Hicks and new Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were also seen standing near him. Kayleigh McEnany, the new White House press secretary, was also seen.
Trump was less vocal about his pet ‘America First’ mantra when she said he didn’t care if another country developed a vaccine earlier than the US. “I really just want to get a vaccine that works,” the poll-bound president said.
Trump added that the US was working in tandem with Australia and the UK. He also spoke about UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson getting affected by the virus, saying “he thought it was over, it was vicious”. Johnson, 55, has recovered and is back in his office.
Trump, who has been accused of coming up with a less-than-serious response to COVID-19 pandemic, said he was not worried about people volunteering for vaccine trials. “They know what they're getting into,” Trump said, adding that those who sign up are ‘good people’. He also opined in favor of therapeutics that would cure patients who are positive.
Trump was still harboring hope about anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine (HCL) and told Baier the claims over its side effects were more of a “bragging”. Trump, who recently managed to get the drug from India, said doctors in other countries were using it.
The president then took on his opponents saying: “Here's what we've been reduced to in this country. The Democrats, the radical left, whatever you would rather have people, I'm going to be very nice, I'm not going to say die - would rather see people not get well because they think I'm going to get credit if hydroxychloroquine works.”
The tycoon-politician said he personally has nothing to do with HCL. He targeted some media reports that indicated that he owned the company that makes HCL. “I have nothing to do with hydroxychloroquine. If it worked, it would be great,” he said.
Recently, the Federal Drug Administration authorized the use of Remdesivir, an anti-viral drug for COVID-19 cases.
Trump says he faces hostile press at White House
One supporter, who said her family prayed for Trump every day, asked the President about his ‘manner and presentation’ of speeches.
“Why do you use descriptive words that could be classified as bullying and why do you not directly answer the questions asked by the press and instead speak of past success and generally ramble?” she asked.
Trump replied saying nearly the entire media at the White House treats him with hostility, something that none of his predecessors saw. And he has to meet fire with fire.
“Look I am greeted with a hostile press the likes of which no President has ever seen. The closest would be that gentleman right up there,” Trump said, pointing to the massive statue of a seated Abraham Lincoln, one of the finest Presidents the US has seen and a Republican. “I believe I am treated worse,” he added.
The President also spoke in favor of anti-lockdown protesters who showed up in various states and displayed Trump gear, calling the protests as “meaningful”.
Trump also revealed during the interview that he lost three friends from the virus, including New York real-estate investor Staney Chera.