The Trump administration is placing the COVID-19 vaccine at risk by aligning its release with the campaign calendar, Democratic candidate Joe Biden said in a Wednesday speech.
“Scientific breakthroughs don’t care about calendars any more than the virus does,” Biden said. “[Vaccines] timing, approval, and distribution should never ever be distorted by political considerations.”
“They should be determined by science and safety alone,” he added.
Biden’s remarks come as ongoing fears that the Trump administration will approve a COVID-19 vaccine before data shows it is safe and effective are coming to a head. Those concerns are borne out by substantial evidence showing that the federal government is advising states to be ready to distribute the inoculation by late next month.
“I trust vaccines, I trust scientists, but I don’t trust Donald Trump,” Biden added.
The Democratic candidate reiterated a demand he made last week to Trump and his administration that they commit to adhering to science in approving any COVID-19 vaccine.
That includes the Trump administration releasing the criteria for which a vaccine will be determined to be safe and effective, a commitment that the administration will only release a vaccine validated by a scientific committee, and that it will release and distribute the vaccine free of cost, and without political favor in terms of who receives the inoculation and in what order.
Biden has centered free access to the vaccine in his platform for responding to COVID-19. One pledge in particular, which would require congressional approval, would empower the secretary of Health and Human Services to issue a declaration requiring insurance providers to fully cover testing, treatment and vaccination for COVID-19 or any new emerging infectious disease with no out-of-pocket expenses.
At one point, Biden was asked whether he trusted the scientists at the FDA and CDC.
The candidate replied that he did, apart from “the one who took a leave of absence” — Michael Caputo.
“Not that guy,” Biden said.