Biden seizes opening as Trump goes to war with his own CDC director over vaccine timeline

Biden seizes opening as Trump goes to war with his own CDC director over vaccine timeline
Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with supporters at a community event at Sun City MacDonald Ranch in Henderson, Nevada. Credit: Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump wasn't happy with his Centers for Disease Control director Wednesday after he told a congressional committee it would take until at least next summer or later to make a vaccine "fully available" to the American public. “I think he made a mistake when he said that," Trump told reporters of Dr. Robert Redfield’s remarks. "We’re ready to distribute immediately to a vast section of the country.”

Redfield is just the latest scientist in the administration to feel the wrath of Trump after daring to tell the public the truth. It's also not Redfield’s first tangle over the science of the pandemic with Trump, who has similarly taken swipes at other infectious disease experts who dared to cross him—Dr. Anthony Fauci, in particular, but even Dr. Deborah Birx, who was once a Trump favorite.

As Trump went to war with science on Wednesday, his Democratic rival Joe Biden quote tweeted Trump's criticism of Redfield, writing, "When I said I trust vaccines, and I trust the scientists, but I don't trust Donald Trump—this is what I meant."

Hours earlier, Biden had laid out three criteria Trump would have to meet in order to safely and effectively deliver a coronavirus vaccine to the American public. Development of the vaccine, Biden said presciently, was "only part of the battle." A distribution plan was equally as important, Biden added, in stark contrast with Trump's assertion that his administration would be distributing "immediately." Trump has also been pressuring health officials to swiftly deliver a vaccine in an obvious bid to boost his flailing reelection campaign.

Biden noted Trump would have to answer several questions in order to earn the trust of the American people on a vaccine. First, what criteria would be used to ensure that a vaccine meets scientific standards of safety and effectiveness, Biden wondered. And, "if the administration greenlights a vaccine, who will validate that the decision was driven by scientists rather than politics?" Biden asked. "What group of scientists will that be?"

Indeed, if Trump capriciously attacks any scientist who elevates the truth over politics—as he has done repeatedly—how can the American people have any faith in the scientists Trump ultimately puts forward to vouch for a vaccine? The simple answer is, they can’t. In fact, a new NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll out this week showed that 52% of Americans don't trust what Trump has  already said about a vaccine, while just 26% do trust him. Not surprisingly, just 39% of Americans now say they would get a government-approved vaccine, a five-point slide from a little over a month ago.

Finally, Biden questioned, "How can we be sure that the distribution of the vaccine will take place safely, cost-free, and without a hint of favoritism?"

For his part, Biden pledged to begin implementing an effective distribution plan “from the minute I take office."

He added, "I'll simply follow the science."

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