Donald Trump said he is “looking at” making a coronavirus vaccine free, after claiming his administration is moving at “warp speed” to develop a treatment by the end of the year.
Asked whether vaccines should be free, the president told reporters that “we’re looking at that actually” as he departed the White House for Camp David.
“But we’re making a lot of progress on vaccines,” he added. “But we’ll be speaking to you very soon and I think we’re going to have a very good couple of meetings at Camp David.”
Earlier on Friday, the president claimed that “vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back” as nearly every state in the US began easing quarantine efforts and reopening businesses as the nation’s death toll climbed above 85,000.
He said: ” But health officials have said the president’s optimistic timeline is unlikely.
Dr Rick Bright, the ousted federal whistleblower whose agency oversees vaccine development, testified to congress that a vaccine can be developed and available to the public within 12 to 18 months “if everything goes perfectly”.
“We’ve never seen everything go perfectly,” he said ”I still think 12 to 18 months is an aggressive schedule, and I think it’s going to take longer than that to do so.”
When a vaccine is ready, the US government will deploy every plane, truck and soldier required to help distribute it to the American people as quickly as possible.”
Dr Anthony Fauci, the top health official leading the Trump administration’s response to the outbreak, testified to the US Senate this week that vaccine development will probably take up to 18 months.
He told a Senate panel that he is concerned that US schools could reopen before a vaccine is available, potentially turning parts of the US into flashpoints that could spawn ”little outbreaks” that officials “might not be able to control”.