President Donald Trump launched a bizarre attack against Democratic challenger Joe Biden on Thursday, suggesting that the former vice president opposes a coronavirus vaccine without explanation.
“Biden’s launched a public campaign against the vaccine, which is so bad,” Trump said from the White House, adding that “we have some vaccines coming that are incredible.”
“You don’t want to have anything having to do with the political purposes being [sic] an anti-vaxxer,” he said. The term typically refers to early childhood vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella, which some have non-scientifically linked to autism.
Trump continued: “You don’t want to be talking about the vaccines in a negative way, especially when you see the statistics that we’re starting to see. They’re incredible, actually. Biden’s perfectly happy to endanger the lives of other people by doing something that he thinks is going to help him politically because his polls are getting very bad. They’re getting very shaky.”
Recent polls have consistently shown Biden to have a strong lead over Trump.
The president’s comments appear to come as a response to brief remarks Biden made earlier in the week about his hopes for a potential vaccine, and his concern that misinformation could hurt efforts to vaccinate the population.
Trump has said “so many things that aren’t true,” Biden stated Monday, “I’m worried if we do have a really good vaccine, people are going to be reluctant to take it. So he’s undermining public confidence.”
Asked if he would get the vaccine himself, Biden replied that he would follow scientific advice on taking any drug to prevent COVID-19.
“I would want to see what the scientists said,” Biden asserted, echoing a comment made earlier by running mate Kamala Harris. The California senator told reporters she would not follow advice from Trump alone, saying that she trusted “the word of public health experts and scientists.”
Biden also emphasized the importance of securing a vaccine as soon as possible.
“If I could get a vaccine tomorrow I’d do it,” he said. “If it would cost me the election I’d do it. We need a vaccine and we need it now.”
Trump also suggested Thursday that Biden was politicizing the coronavirus pandemic, which the president has consistently sought to downplay despite its crippling effects on the global economy.
“He keeps talking about the pandemic,” Trump complained.
The United States continues to lead the world in both COVID-19 infections and deaths; 6.4 million cases have been reported across the country and more than 190,000 people have died of the virus since the crisis began.
The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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