Health officials tell Donald Trump that coronavirus vaccine is at least a year away
While President Donald Trump urges government scientists and drug companies to speed up development of a coronavirus vaccine, officials told him Tuesday it will still take at least a year.
"The whole process is going to take a year, year-and-a-half at least," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Speaking with reporters after a presidential tour of labs at the National Institutes of Health, Fauci said vaccines are being developed and will soon be ready for testing, but "I don't want to overpromise."
Trump, who also made his plea for speed at a Monday meeting with pharmaceutical CEOs, said he had "a great tour of NIH" and there is "a lot of progress."
Earlier in the day, in a speech to a group of county government officials from across the country, Trump said that "we're moving aggressively to accelerate the process of developing a vaccine."
At the NIH, Trump toured the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory, an operation that investigates viral diseases and advances the development of safe and effective vaccines.
The NIH visit was the latest in a string of events designed to show that Trump is on top of efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The White House is promoting these activities in various ways, including tweets and press releases. One release featured comments from supportive Republicans. The headline: "Praise for the President's Coronavirus Response."
The White House also announced Tuesday that Trump was donating $100,000—his 2019 fourth-quarter salary—to the Department of Health and Human Services to help fight the spread of coronavirus.
The money will "support the efforts being undertaken to confront, contain, and combat #Coronavirus," tweeted White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham.
Critics noted that Trump has spent a good part of his presidency seeking to cut funds from health agencies devoted to fighting diseases, and seems to have little understanding of what they do.
"If Trump is going to successfully manage this crisis, he'll have to change his approach to governing—so far, there's no indication he's willing to do that," said Chris Lu, who managed President Barack Obama's first-term Cabinet.
Lu cited Trump's claims that a coronavirus vaccine may be only months away, even though his own experts talk in terms of 12 to 18 months.
"It just shows how Trump is unable to stick to the science and the facts," Lu said, "and seems more concerned with how this crisis will impact him politically."
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