Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.), the Democratic nominee for vice president, said she wouldn’t trust President Donald Trump’s word alone on the efficacy and safety of a potential coronavirus vaccine.
Trump said last month that the U.S. would have a vaccine by the end of the year, or even “substantially before” then. Harris was asked whether she would trust such a vaccine during an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“I think that we have learned since this pandemic started ― but really before that ― that there’s very little that we can trust that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth,” Harris said.
She added: “No, I would not trust his word. I would trust the word of public health experts and scientists, but not Donald Trump.”
Trump’s promise of a vaccine within the next few months has startled Democrats and some medical professionals who worry the administration is dangerously speeding up the normal timeline for developing and testing a vaccine in an effort to win over voters.
Harris told CNN that she believes public health experts could be “muzzled” and that their opinions on a potential vaccine could be “suppressed.”
“They will be sidelined,” she said. “Because [Trump’s] looking at an election coming up in less than 60 days and he’s grasping for whatever he can get to pretend that he’s been a leader on this issue when he has not.”
Asked if she would get the vaccine if it’s approved and distributed before the election, Harris wouldn’t say.
“I think that’s going to be an issue for all of us,” she said. “I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump. And it would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he’s talking about. I will not take his word for it. He wants us to inject bleach.”
Harris, whom Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden named as his running mate last month, said she trusts Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert on the White House’s coronavirus task force. She suggested she would feel more comfortable about a potential vaccine if he approved it.
Fauci told CNN on Thursday that the Food and Drug Administration has vowed to base any decisions about a potential vaccine on data from clinical trials.
“I would assume ― and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the case ― that a vaccine would not be approved for the American public unless it was indeed both safe and effective,” Fauci said. “If that’s the case … I would not hesitate for a moment to take the vaccine myself and recommend it for my family.”
During her interview with CNN, Harris stressed the importance of a national plan for administering vaccinations once a vaccine has been developed and approved by public health officials.
“Joe Biden and I have a plan ― a national plan,” she said. “Donald Trump does not. … There has to be an overall plan that thinks about those who ― and will administer vaccines to those who ― have been hardest hit, who are most vulnerable and most at need.”
Harris said a potential Biden administration would “listen to the public health experts” to determine whether all 50 states should require students to get a coronavirus vaccination before entering public school.
Outbreaks among children have popped up in parts of the country in recent weeks as some schools have reopened for in-person instruction. Though children are far less likely to develop serious COVID-19 symptoms compared with older adults, studies have shown that children between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread the virus to others at least as well as adults do.
The long-term effects of contracting the coronavirus are still being studied.
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