President Trump on Thursday vowed a “safe and effective vaccine” by the end of the year to combat the novel coronavirus, while slamming Joe Biden’s plan to address the pandemic as a “surrender to the virus.”
During his formal nomination acceptance speech from the South Lawn at the White House on the final night of the Republican National Convention, the president touted his administration’s efforts in response to the global pandemic.
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“We will have a safe and effective vaccine this year,” Trump said. “And together, we will crush the virus.”
The president pointed to his administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” public-private partnership, and praised the speed in creating a safe vaccine.
“We are marshaling America’s scientific genius to produce a vaccine in record time,” he said. “Under Operation Warp Speed, we have three different vaccines in the final stage of trials right now, years ahead of what has been achieved before.”
He added: “We are producing them in advance, so that hundreds of millions of doses will be quickly available.”
The president highlighted his administration’s approach to the pandemic, saying that “to save as many lives as possible, we are focusing on the science, the facts and the data”
“We are aggressively sheltering those at highest risk—especially the elderly—while allowing lower-risk Americans to safely return to work and school,” he said.
But Trump criticized his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, who, earlier this year slammed Trump for “taking bold action to issue a travel ban on China.”
“Joe Biden called it hysterical and xenophobic. If we had listened to Joe, hundreds of thousands more Americans would have died,” he said. “Instead of following the science, Joe Biden wants to inflict a painful shutdown on the entire country. His shutdown would inflict unthinkable and lasting harm on our nation’s children, families, and citizens of all backgrounds.”
He added: “The cost of the Biden shutdown would be measured in increased drug overdoses, depression, alcohol addiction, suicides, heart attacks, economic devastation and more. Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather a surrender.”
The president has been criticized by Democrats and the media for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which as of Thursday has infected more than 5.8 million and killed at least 180,814 people in the U.S.
The president addressed the crowd on Thursday night, where nearly 1,000 guests, many without masks or face coverings, sat on the South Lawn in a major break with norms over using the White House for a political convention. The president last month began urging Americans to wear face coverings when social distancing is not possible, and has been seen wearing a mask himself, after mixed messages regarding the issue in the early months of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Trump honored the first responders and nurses during his acceptance speech, while offering prayers for those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19.. “As one nation, we mourn, we grieve, and we hold in our hearts forever the memories of all of those lives so tragically taken. In their honor, we will unite,” he said. “In their memory, we will overcome.”
The president, referring to the novel coronavirus as the “China Virus” in his address — which prompted backlash from Asian Americans, who reported an increase in racist incidents — touted his administration’s efforts, invoking the Defense Production Act to produce “the world’s largest supply of ventilators.”
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“Not a single American who has needed a ventilator has been denied a ventilator,” Trump said. “We shipped hundreds of millions of masks, gloves and gowns to our front line healthcare workers. To protect our nation’s seniors, we rushed supplies, testing kits, and personnel to nursing homes and long term care facilities. The Army Corps of Engineers built field hospitals, and the Navy deployed our great hospital ships.”
Trump touted the United States’ testing system, calling it the “largest and most advanced…in the world,” and said “we developed a wide array of effective treatments, including a powerful anti-body treatment known as Convalescent Plasma that will save thousands of lives.”
Critics have said the U.S. is still not doing enough in terms of testing. A group of major medical and business organizations have called on lawmakers to do more to provide “sustained” federal funding for widespread COVID-19 testing.
He added: “Thanks to advances we have pioneered, the fatality rate has been reduced by 80 percent since April.”
Last week, Trump granted an emergency authorization for the usage of convalescent plasma to treat coronavirus patients. The treatment takes convalescent plasma from patients who have recovered from the coronavirus and is rich in antibodies. Though it may provide benefits to those fighting the virus, the evidence has been inconclusive as to how it works or how best to administer it.