President Trump on Thursday said he thinks it’s possible there will be a COVID-19 vaccine ready around Election Day in November.
“I think in some cases, yes, possible before, but right around that time,” Trump said on Geraldo Rivera’s radio show when asked if he thought a vaccine would be ready by Nov. 3.
“We have great companies,” he added. “The rest of the world is also doing vaccines, so let’s see how they do.”
The president’s comments are likely to fuel concerns that he is exerting political pressure on vaccine development in a bid to boost his reelection hopes. Trump told reporters this week that politics will not play any role in the science behind vaccine development, and administration officials have made similar assurances.
But Trump has repeatedly insisted a vaccine could be ready in the near future, citing Operation Warp Speed, a government initiative to expedite the development, manufacturing and distribution of a possible COVID-19 vaccine.
“I’m rushing it. I am. I’m pushing everybody,” Trump told Rivera of the push for a vaccine.
Trump also claimed a vaccine wouldn’t be ready for “two years” if a different president were in office.
Asked later Thursday if he felt it would help his reelection chances if a vaccine were ready by November, Trump said “it wouldn’t hurt.”
“But I’m doing it not for the election,” he said. “I want it fast because I want to save a lot of lives.”
Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert, and other public health officials have said a vaccine will likely be ready by the end of 2020 or early 2021, citing the number of candidates in development. But they have cautioned it will take time to distribute the vaccine to the masses throughout next year.
U.S. companies Pfizer and Moderna recently entered the third phase of trials for their vaccine candidates to test for efficacy and safety.
Updated at 12:43 p.m.