As coronavirus cases and deaths continue to rise in the United States, President Donald Trump scored a victory lap on Tuesday, acknowledging his administration’s Operation Warp Speed program for contributing to the rapid development of a vaccine.
“No one thought it was even possible from a distance to do what we did in less than nine months. Something that – just unthinkable, ”Trump said Tuesday at the White House. “And we took a lot of heat when we said that was our goal.”
Trump, who has come under heavy criticism for his handling of the pandemic, released a video at the start of the event that highlighted a litany of talking heads on television suggesting his claim that a vaccine would be ready by end of 2020 was impossible.
“Sure they’re going to say now ‘we’ve always told you this is so’ but we’ve got them a little different, but it’s been amazing and it will end the pandemic. This will end the pandemic, ”Trump said.
The president’s remarks come amid an increase in the number of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths across the United States. The number of confirmed daily infections exceeded 200,000 for the first time last week and on Monday 102,148 people were hospitalized for COVID-19, according to COVID Tracking Project The data.
The United States has confirmed more than 15 million cases and more than 285,000 deaths, the highest total in the world, according to a Johns Hopkins University pointing.
Trump also signed an executive order on Tuesday that will give Americans priority access to COVID-19 vaccines that the U.S. government should receive and distribute. It is unclear exactly how the Executive Order will work, however, and when asked Tuesday morning for details of Trump’s Executive Order and why it is needed, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a senior Operation Warp Speed official. , said he did not know.
“Frankly I do not know. And frankly, I stay out of it. I cannot comment. I literally don’t know, ”Slaoui told ABC News ahead of the White House event.
I asked Operation Warp Speed’s chief scientific adviser, Moncef Slaoui, to explain Trump’s executive order for vaccines.
“Frankly I do not know. And frankly, I stay out of it. I cannot comment. I literally don’t know. “
– GeorgeStephanopoulos (@GStephanopoulos) December 8, 2020
Trump’s comments follow a New York Times report revealing that Pfizer, which is developing a vaccine, will not be able to deliver more than 100 million doses of its vaccines to the United States due to commitments made to other countries.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that Pfizer offered over the summer to sell up to 200 million doses in the United States, which would cover 100 million Americans, but the Trump administration declined the offer. The White House insists they will have sufficient doses of Pfizer and other vaccine makers to immunize all Americans who want the vaccine by the end of June 2021.
“We are committed to having enough vaccine doses to immunize the entire population by mid-2021. We remain confident that will be the case,” Slaoui told Fox News.
Pfizer and fellow vaccine developer Moderna were not at the Trump event on Tuesday because emergency applications for their vaccines are currently under review by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA official Peter Marks was in attendance and a senior administration official said on Monday that Marks’ presence was the reason drugmakers were not invited.
Attendees also included executives from companies that will be involved in vaccine distribution, such as pharmacy chains CVS Health and Walgreens Boots Alliance, drug distributor McKesson, as well as parcel delivery companies United Parcel Service and FedEx. .
Following his remarks, a reporter asked Trump about the current spike in cases and what his message to the American people is about travel during the upcoming holidays. The president briefly referred to guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) before once again touting the vaccine.
“The CDC is publishing their guidelines and these are very important guidelines, but I think that, I think the vaccine was our goal. It was number one, because it was like that, that was how it ended.
When asked why members of President-elect Joe Biden’s team weren’t invited to attend Tuesday’s event, given that Biden’s administration will oversee the majority of the year cast next, Trump took the opportunity to continue to insist, without proof, that the election still has to be decided.
“We’ll have to see who the next administration is because we won in these swing states and there were terrible things that happened. So we’re going to have to see who the next administration is, ”Trump said on the same day which marked the deadline for states to certify their electoral results before next week’s Electoral College meetings, beginning the final phase of the presidential election process.
“And I hope the next administration is the Trump administration because you can’t steal hundreds of thousands of votes,” he continued, referring to claims repeatedly denied. “You can’t have fraud and deception and all the things that they’ve done.”