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Sunday, 6 September 2020

Kamala Harris says she doesn't trust Donald Trump alone on whether a coronavirus vaccine would work and fears health experts could be ignored to get treatment approved before the election

Democratic U.S. vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris said she would not take President Donald Trump's word alone on any potential coronavirus vaccine.
In an interview excerpt broadcast by CNN on Saturday, Harris said Trump had a track record of suppressing expert opinion about the coronavirus pandemic and worried that might happen again in the case of a prospective vaccine.
'I would not trust Donald Trump,' she said, adding she would only be convinced of the efficacy of a vaccine if someone credible were vouching for it as well.
'I will not take his word for it.' 
Kamala Harris said she will not take President Trump's word alone on a coronavirus vaccine
At least 6.2 million people have been infected in the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, which has taken more than  188,000 lives.
With the government's handling of the world's worst outbreak of the disease under close scrutiny, Trump has dangled the possibility that a vaccine might be ready ahead of the November 3 U.S. presidential election.
But the president has a track record of flouting scientific advice and some experts are skeptical that vaccine trials, which have to study potential side effects on a wide range of people before they can deliver a verdict, can be completed by late this year or even early next year.

Harris suggested to CNN that Trump might seize on a vaccine - no matter how untested - to burnish his image. 
'He's looking at an election coming up in less than 60 days and he's grasping for whatever he can get to pretend he can be a leader on this issue when he's not,' she said.
She also suggested that health experts would not get the final say on whether the vaccine is approved or not. 
'If past is prologue that they will not, they'll be muzzled, they'll be suppressed, they will be sidelined,' she claimed. 
She did, however, say that she trusts Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.  

The White House did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. 
She added that Fauci 'put the public health of the American people as the highest priority in terms of his work, and his reputation and his priority'. 
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
CNN said the full interview with Harris would be broadcast on Sunday. 
On Thursday, a report from CNN claimed that Trump has pressured administration health officials to accelerate the vaccine's development before November's election. 
Yet the administration has sought to counter arguments that politics will be involved. 
'I have to say there has been absolutely no interference,' Moncef Slaoui, the chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed, said to Science, claiming he would resign if there was undue influence. 
Harris said Trump had a track record of suppressing expert opinion about the coronavirus pandemic and worried that might happen again in the case of a prospective vaccine
Harris said Trump had a track record of suppressing expert opinion about the coronavirus pandemic and worried that might happen again in the case of a prospective vaccine
Pictured, a COVID-19 vaccination at the Research Centers of America (RCA) in Hollywood, Florida, on August 13. So-called phase three vaccine clinical trials, in which thousands of people take part in the final stages, are gaining traction in the state
Pictured, a COVID-19 vaccination at the Research Centers of America (RCA) in Hollywood, Florida, on August 13. So-called phase three vaccine clinical trials, in which thousands of people take part in the final stages, are gaining traction in the state
'No one is pressuring the FDA to do anything,' Trump's press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said. 
Also on Thursday, Dr. Fauci revealed that it is unlikely a COVID-19 vaccine will be ready by the end of October, but that it is not impossible.
'I think most of the people feel it's going to be November, December,' Dr Fauci said in a CNN interview when asked about the possibility of an earlier release. 
It was the first time Dr Fauci had spoken since documents leaked to the New York Times revealed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent instructions to state health departments to prepare for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of October.  
He added that a clinical trial could prompt drug developers to decide a vaccine works sooner.
'It is conceivable that you can have it by October, though I don't think that that's likely.'

Dr Fauci had previously said that regulators would have a 'moral obligation' to end vaccine trials early if the data provided overwhelming evidence that the shots were safe and effective.  
Moderna and Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine trials are in their final (phase 3) stages before they are ready to be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval. 
Each company has said it can have millions of doses ready by year-end and Pfizer previously stated it thought i could be ready for regulatory submission by October. 
Dr Fauci has estimate that the Moderna trial would be fully enrolled by summer's end, and that results could be available by November. 
The leaked CDC forms provide guidance for storing, administering and distributing 'Vaccine A' or 'Vaccine B,' which were unnamed, in the event that either is granted emergency use authorization by the end of October 2020 - just days before Americans hit the voting booths and decide whether to re-elect President Trump on November 3.
Currently, the vaccines being developed by Moderna and Pfizer are the furthest along in their clinical trials, with AstraZeneca's close behind. 

While Americans are eager for life to return to some semblance of normality, a recent Stat News and Harris Poll survey found that 78 percent of people in the US think that the fast progress toward approval for a coronavirus vaccine is driven not by science, but by politics. 
And experts share their fears. 
'This gives me concern,' Dean of the School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and vaccine delivery expert Dr Peter Hotez told DailyMail.com. 
'All of this together gives me the impression that this potentially more of a stunt than an expression of concern for public health, especially coming in the weeks before the election.' 
Millions of Americans are counting on a COVID-19 vaccine to curb the global pandemic, which has killed more than 180,000 people in the US, and sickened well over six million. 
The Trump Administration launched Operation Warp Speed in an effort to expedite vaccine development via billions of dollars of investment in partner companies.

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