President Trump says he's "optimistic" that a vaccine will be ready around, and it "wouldn't hurt" his chances against former Vice President Joe Biden. But having a vaccine available for widespread public use before 2021 is unrealistic, according to public health experts, including the Coronavirus Task Force's Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Mr. Trump told Geraldo Rivera's radio program "Geraldo in Cleveland," on WTAM, Thursday that a vaccine could "in some cases" be ready sooner than November 3, but "right around that time." Asked about this on the White House South Lawn a couple hours later, the president said he's "optimistic" about a vaccine being ready around that date.
"I'm optimistic that it'll be probably around that date. I believe we'll have the vaccine before the end of the year, certainly, but around that date, yes, I think so," Mr. Trump sad.
Asked if that would help him in his race against Biden, the president responded: "It wouldn't hurt, it wouldn't hurt, but I'm doing it not for the election. I want it fast because I want to save a lot of lives."
There are vaccines that are in later stages of clinical trials. Fauci told a House panel last month he's "cautiously optimistic" the U.S. could have a vaccine that could work by "late fall or early winter."
But even with the unprecedented focus of the scientific community on a vaccine, widespread availability of such a vaccine isn't expected until 2021. And a vaccine has to be proven safe and effective first.
"But ultimately, within a reasonable period of time, the plans now allow for any American who needs a vaccine to get it within the year 2021," Fauci told the House panel last month.
The president has said would put the military in charge of the distribution of the vaccine, prioritizing the elderly and vulnerable first. No detailed roadmap for any such distribution has been released.