WASHINGTON. — Donald Trump and Joe Biden offered sharply contrasting reactions on Monday to news of a coronavirus vaccine that proved nearly 95 percentage effective in trials.
Obama scolds “petulant” Trump but reveals conservative sympathies
At a press conference the president-elect called the vaccine news “really encouraging” but warned “more people may die” unless the Trump administration starts cooperating with the incoming Democratic administration. “We are going into a very dark winter. Things are going to get much tougher before they get easier,” he said.
Rather than working to combat the virus, which is spreading faster than ever and on average killing more than 1 000 Americans a day, Trump has stayed focused on unsubstantiated claims that the presidential election was stolen.
The pharmaceutical giant Moderna said on Monday its experimental vaccine was 94.5 percentage effective, based on interim data from a late-stage clinical trial.
“Another vaccine just announced,” Trump tweeted, seeking to claim credit. “This time by Moderna, 95 percentage effective. For those great “historians,” please remember that these great discoveries, which will end the China Plague, all took place on my watch!”
Critics say Trump has all but surrendered to the pandemic, which has killed more than 244,000 people in the US and is averaging more than 100 000 cases a day. Michael Osterholm, an adviser to Biden, told NBC on Sunday: “We are in a very dangerous period — the most dangerous public health period since 1918.”
Yet Trump has not attended a taskforce meeting in “at least five months”, the public health expert Dr Anthony Fauci said on Sunday, and seems to have bet everything on a vaccine. Trump appeared consumed instead by the election — and now by denying its outcome.
Biden beat him by the same 306-232 margin in the electoral college Trump described as a “landslide” when he won in 2016. The Democrat is also ahead in the popular vote by 5.5m votes, or 3.6 percentage , with ballots still being counted. The Trump administration has not recognised Biden as president-elect, preventing his team from gaining access to government office space and funding. Democrats and some Republicans have warned that refusal to give Biden access to intelligence poses a risk to national security and hampers the battle against the virus, including vaccine distribution planning.
Biden said the delay was “more embarrassing than debilitating” and that he was continuing to put in place his team and plans to deal with the pandemic and its economic fallout.
The pandemic is the most pressing crisis facing the incoming president. Ron Klain, who will be White House chief of staff, said Biden advisers would meet Pfizer and other drugmakers this week.
White House officials and Republicans in Congress are outnumbered by world leaders in acknowledging Biden’s win. On Monday Robert O’Brien, Trump’s national security adviser, noted that a transition would only take place “if the current lawsuits don’t work out for the president”. But speaking at the Global Security Forum, O’Brien acknowledged: “If there is a new administration, they deserve some time to come in and implement their policies. – The Guardian..