Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden have been trading accusations that the other is undermining public trust in a potential coronavirus vaccine. Mr.Biden has expressed concerns that the vaccine approval process could be politicized, while Mr. Trump and his allies counter that such comments from Mr. Biden and other Democrats are turning off the public to a potentially lifesaving vaccine when its released.
Mr. Biden , speaking in Wilmington, Delaware, after being briefed by public health experts about a potential vaccine, cited Mr. Trumps incompetence and dishonesty surrounding the distribution of personal protective equipment and coronavirus testing. The U.S. cant afford to repeat those fiascos when it comes to a vaccine, he said.
"I trust vaccines, I trust scientists, but I dont trust Donald Mr. Trump, Mr. Biden said, and at this moment, the American people cant, either.
On Wednesday evening, Mr. Trump raised new questions about the administrations rollout of a vaccine when he publicly contradicted the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who said at a congressional hearing earlier Wednesday that a vaccine wouldnt be broadly available to most Americans until the summer of 2021.
Mr. Trump said that CDC Director Robert Redfield had misspoken and that the U.S. could start distributing a vaccine starting in mid-October.
"I think he made a mistake when he said that. I think its just incorrect information, Mr. Trump said of Redfields comments. When he said it, I believe he was confused.
Mr. Trump also contradicted Redfield on the use of masks. The CDC director told lawmakers that masks are a more effective means of protection against the coronavirus than a potential vaccine, but Mr. Trump said he spoke to Redfield afterward about his comments and that if you ask him, hed probably say that he didnt understand the question.
"There are a lot of problems with masks, Mr. Trump said.
For his part, Mr. Biden has said he would take a vaccine tomorrow if it were available but that he would want to see what the scientists said first. His running mate, Kamala Harris, has said she wouldnt trust Mr. Trump to be honest about the safety of any potential vaccine and worries that experts and scientists would be muzzled by the president because hes so eager to get a vaccine approved by his stated goal of Election Day.
The Mr. Trump campaign has accused Mr. Biden and Harris of sowing doubt about a potential vaccine by expressing concerns that the approval process could be tainted by politics. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump said Mr. Biden has started talking negatively because they know we haAlso read: Russia inks pact to test, supply Sputnik V vaccine to Indiave it or we will soon have it, and the answer to that is very soon.
Mr. Biden , meanwhile, responded during his Delaware event to the question of whether his comments could undermine trust in scientists.
"No, Mr. Biden said, because Americans know (Mr. Trump) doesnt have any respect for scientists.
Mr. Biden also discussed a vaccine distribution proposal crafted by public health experts and shared with him during his briefing Wednesday. According to the proposal, first responders and those at the greatest risk - including those in nursing homes and people with serious preexisting conditions - would get the vaccine first and not necessarily people in minority communities, which have been disproportionately hit by the impacts of the virus.
Mr. Biden said that children, ironically, might be the last people to get the vaccine because it would take time to safely test the vaccine on them.
It has to be done fairly and well, he said of the vaccine distribution. It cant be based on your tax returns, figuratively speaking; its got to be based on who is most vulnerable.
Mr. Biden also talked about his proposal to instate a national mask mandate, which he says could save tens of thousands of lives. When Mr. Biden first proposed it, Mr. Trump decried the idea of bringing the full weight of the federal government on law-abiding Americans to enforce mask-wearing.
During his event Wednesday, Mr. Biden acknowledged that he wasnt sure if he had the legal authority to sign an executive order imposing a federally mandated nationwide mask mandate, but said he had sought legal advice on the issue.
"Our legal team thinks I can do that, based upon the degree to which theres a crisis in those states and how bad things are for the country, and if we dont do it what happens, Mr. Biden said. He added that, regardless, he would invite governors to the White House and make the case to them on the importance of issuing a mask mandate at the state level.
Jaffe reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Kevin Freking in Washington contributed to this report.