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US Election 2020: Joe Biden rejects Donald Trump claim that COVID-19 vaccine is imminent

Democratic Party's presidential candidate Joe Biden has bluntly contradicted Donald Trump's suggestion that a COVID-19 vaccine may be only weeks away, warning Americans they can't trust the president's word.

September 18, 2020 / 01:17 PM IST

File image: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden bluntly contradicted President Donald Trump's suggestion that a coronavirus vaccine may be only weeks away, warning Americans they cannot trust the president's word.

"The idea that there's going to be a vaccine and everything's gonna be fine tomorrow - it's just not rational," Biden said during a CNN town hall in Moosic, Pennsylvania.

Trump again said on Wednesday that a vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, could be ready for distribution ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Most health experts, including Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have said a vaccine will likely not be widely available until mid-2021.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Trump has accused Biden of spreading "anti-vaccine rhetoric," while Biden has emphasized that he will listen to scientists, not the president, regarding a vaccine's safety.

The broadcast was the first town hall-style event for Biden since he accepted the Democratic nomination last month, giving viewers a rare chance to see him answer live questions from people whose votes he hopes to win in November.

The cable network described the event as a "drive-in town hall": participants remained at their parked cars outdoors to ensure they stayed safely distanced from one another.

Biden spent much of the evening attacking Trump for his handling of the pandemic, including the president's own admission to the journalist Bob Woodward that he deliberately downplayed the disease's deadliness.

"He knew it and did nothing," Biden said. "It's close to criminal."

Trump has subsequently said he was trying to avoid panic.

Biden said he did not have the power to enforce a national mask mandate, walking back remarks he made on Wednesday in which he suggested the president could legally require masks amid a national emergency. But he vowed to encourage every governor to do so while criticizing Trump for questioning the efficacy of masks.

Biden also took advantage of the event's setting near his birthplace of Scranton, comparing his working-class upbringing with what he derided as Trump's "Park Avenue" background.

"Guys like me who were the first of my family to go to college... We are as good as anybody," he said. "And guys like Trump, who inherited everything and squandered what they inherited, are the people that I've always had a problem with - not the people who are busting their neck."

He said he would accept the results of the election, a stance that Trump has declined to adopt amid his unfounded claims that the widespread use of mail-in ballots due to the pandemic will cause massive fraud.

Electoral experts have said voter fraud is exceedingly rare in the United States, where voting by mail is a longstanding practice in many states.

For much of the summer, Biden held mostly virtual events from his home in Delaware, drawing criticism from Trump that he was "hiding." But Biden maintained an advantage in national opinion polls throughout, as the pandemic battered Trump's standing among voters.

In recent weeks, Biden has begun to hold campaign events again in other states, but they have been largely devoid of attendees aside from reporters and invited guests in a nod to the coronavirus.

Trump, who has returned to holding large-scale rallies, participated in an ABC town hall with undecided voters earlier this week, where he defended his administration's response to the outbreak.

At an outdoor rally in Mosinee, Wisconsin, on Thursday night, Trump told supporters that Biden "would absolutely eradicate your state's economy" and mocked the CNN event for keeping attendees apart in cars.

COVID-19 has killed more than 195,000 people in the United States, the most of any country.

Biden and Trump will both travel to Minnesota on Friday, the first day of early voting there.
Reuters
first published: Sep 18, 2020 08:30 am

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