Donald Trump ignores vaccine rollout after months of championing its cause; Indonesia says it will make the vaccine free to all citizens. Follow developments here.
President Donald Trump pinned all his hopes for ending the pandemic on a vaccine, but as shots started going into American arms this week, he has barely acknowledged the moment and has wavered on when he’ll be inoculated.
The first shipments of a coronavirus vaccine created by Pfizer and German company BioNTech arrived on Monday, with front-line health-care workers receiving injections on live television to mark the occasion. The rollout coincides with the US setting records for daily cases, daily deaths and hospitalisations.
The president has had little to say about any of it, beyond a single congratulatory tweet buried among a stream of false assertions and conspiracy theories about the election he lost.
Trump’s administration bet heavily on fast-tracking vaccine development, defying critics who said it would be nearly impossible for a shot to reach consumers less than a year after the coronavirus hit American shores.
The White House is now preparing to publicly inoculate a handful of officials in an event to celebrate the breakthrough and encourage Americans to get vaccinated. Vice President Mike Pence, who is not publicly known to have contracted the virus, said he’ll receive a vaccination within days, but his office declined to say if it would be in front of cameras.
Public vaccination of top government officials, including the president, is regarded as a confidence-booster by health authorities for Americans wary of the shots. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, has said he intends to receive an injection in public as soon as practicable. Three other previous presidents – George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, have volunteered to take the shot publicly to ease people’s fears. President-elect Joe Biden has also said he would get the vaccine in public.
But Trump said Sunday he is not “scheduled” to be vaccinated, after Bloomberg News reported that top White House officials including the president had been given priority for shots. His press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany – who has called the shots the “Trump vaccine” – wouldn’t say Monday whether Trump would be vaccinated while he’s still in office.
The US outbreak soared under Trump’s watch, with far more publicly reported cases and deaths than anywhere else in the world, even as Trump promised the virus would fade away and downplayed its danger. Most Americans rated his handling of the crisis poorly, opening the door for Biden’s victory.
By many metrics, the pandemic is worse than ever, and continues to worsen. Trump has met the milestones with silence, saying nothing on Friday when daily deaths hit a record of 3306, or on Monday when there were 264,000 new cases, also a record. He hasn’t asked Americans to do anything to slow transmission of the virus, such as wearing masks.