“I think in some cases, yes, possible before, but right around that time,” Trump said when pressed on the possibility of a vaccine by Election Day.
The president’s comment comes just days after Vice President Mike Pence said that a vaccine could be ready before the end of the year. Notably, Moderna has moved into phase 3 of clinical trials for its preparation, mRNA-1273, which has thus far shown promise across two small-scale clinical trials. Conversely, Anthony Fauci, the Trump administration’s leading infectious disease expert, has been more skeptical and said a vaccine would not likely be available until the end of 2020 or start of 2021.
According to Trump, the fast-tracked vaccine creation effort, Operation Warp Speed, is harnessing some of the “greatest companies in the world” working in parallel to the rest of the world.
“Look, I just want to save lives,” Trump said, noting the standard two-year development timeline for vaccinations.
“I’m pushing it very hard … but I’m not doing it for votes. I’m doing it because it’s the right thing to do.”
The president was previously pressed on whether he believed a vaccine by November would be beneficial to his re-election prospects.
“It wouldn’t hurt. But I’m doing it not for the election. I want it fast because I want to save a lot of lives.”
Trump claimed to be “optimistic” that a preventative preparation for coronavirus would be available by November.
According to CNBC, Trump’s comment will likely fuel concerns that the president’s administration is applying undue pressure on regulators to approve a vaccine before it’s been properly tested for mass distribution.
Per Business Insider, Trump’s aides were previously reported to believe that the president does not have a chance of winning a second term without a vaccination available. Notably, in an interview with The Atlantic, longtime Republican strategist Charlie Black claimed that the U.S. leader would likely announce a vaccine in October.
Health officials have said that the U.S. will not be able to return to a semblance of “normal” without a vaccination available for COVID-19. World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently said that multiple candidates had entered phase 3 of their clinical trials. However, he warned that such progress was not a guarantee that any foolproof preventative would ever be available.