The United States may develop a coronavirus vaccine prior to Election Day, President Donald Trump said Thursday.
Asked during a radio interview with conservative personality Geraldo Rivera what the soonest date a vaccine could become available is, Trump said “sooner than the end of the year.”
Rivera asked if a vaccine could be available before the Nov. 3 presidential election, to which Trump replied, “I think in some cases yes, possible before.”
“But right around that time. We have great companies. These are the greatest companies in the world,” the president said.
Trump’s forecast is far sooner than those offered by health officials who predict a vaccine would not likely be available until the end of the year or early in 2021.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, was more conservative in his assessment, saying during a July 24 event hosted by the Washington Post newspaper that he foresees a vaccine being available in spring 2021.
Trump is significantly trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in nationwide polling as he seeks re-election, with the American public greatly disapproving of his handling of the pandemic.
Trump staved off criticism that he is rushing the vaccine for his own political gain, saying “I just want to save lives.”
“I’m rushing it. I am. I am pushing everybody. If you had another president other than me you wouldn’t be talking vaccines for two years,” he said.
Trump was asked about the possibility that China stole the formula of a vaccine candidate, to which he replied: “I wouldn’t be surprised. I can’t say that with certainty, but it’s possible.”