Trump’s lethal failure to face the COVID pandemic. Part 6: We’ll have a vaccine by election day. Riiight.

COVID-19, courtesy of CDC

During the fall, Trump continued to tout his pet drugs du jour and to blame everyone else for his failings (not that China doesn’t deserve to share some blame). On leaving the hospital, he irresponsibly told everyone not to worry about the virus. The contagion from the Rose Garden event spread. As the pandemic got worse, the Trump Administration cut the number of Federal personnel deployed in COVID-19 fight by 60%.

A vaccine for my kingdom!

As the November election approached, Trump became more insistent that there should and would be a vaccine available before Election Day, to improve his chances of winning. This was always unlikely, but thanks to amazing strides in the science, people starting work very quickly and working flat out, lots of cases to speed up trials and a new technology working well first time, it almost happened. Clinical trials frequently have to pause when there is an unexplained death or serious illness of a trial participant, to try and work out if it was connected to the vaccine, for example AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Trump was not happy about any delay. 156 of the less than 200 countries in the world teamed up for a Covid-19 vaccine, but not the US. Trump wanted credit. China joined later.

Early in September people were warning that it was time to start organizing COVID-19 vaccine transport, and that it would take 8,000 jumbo jets to deliver doses around the world.

Such was the political pressure that nine vaccine makers signed a safety pledge in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine. When the FDA considered tougher standards for a COVID-19 vaccine that would make it unlikely one will be cleared by Election Day, which even the Biotech Industry wanted, Trump tweeted, “The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics. Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives! @SteveFDA.” He claimed he could overrule the FDA. The FDA said it wanted 2 months of safety data for Covid-19 vaccines in trials before considering authorization, which would mean no emergency use authorization before Election Day. Such was Trump’s obstruction at the CDC that the Select Subcommittee threatened subpoenas.

While Trump said he wouldn’t force Americans to be vaccinated and polls show widespread vaccine hesitancy, Facebook decided to ban anti-vaccination ads.

Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans who said they would get a Covid-19 vaccine fell below the level which Dr. Fauci said was enough for herd immunity.

The NEJM condemned Trump for his handling of COVID. Nearly 2 in 3 voters said Trump did not take enough care to avoid catching COVID, and 60% did not trust the administration to provide complete and accurate information about his health and did not trust what he says about the pandemic.

Maybe you’re not immune

In October 2020 a Nevada man caught COVID for a second time and a woman in the Netherlands died after being reinfected, yet Trump tweeted “Maybe I’m immune” — Twitter blocked his tweet as more and more people realized how dangerous his false claims were. Not caring about the safety of others, Trump resumed his superspreader rallies, even when doctors called on him to cancel. Mike Pence also attended rallies despite staff testing positive. Apparently the White House was not concerned because “the VP has the best doctors in the world around him.” Trump’s rallies were responsible for at least 30,000 COVID infections and 700 deaths.

Also to improve his reelection chances, Trump started calling for a stimulus bill with checks for $1,200, though he did not persuade his party to do anything. He’d only just ordered a halt to stimulus negotiations. His ad campaign put out a video edited to make it look like Dr. Fauci endorsed him. Desperate to downplay the number of deaths, Trump slandered doctors, saying, ‘Our doctors get more money if someone dies of Covid’.

He refused to take part in the second presidential debate because it was to be virtual because of COVID-19.

An article on JAMA stated that “The US has experienced more deaths from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) than any other country and has one of the highest cumulative per capita death rates.” And yet, the White House was still in favor of herd immunity, which Dr. Fauci called ‘nonsense and very dangerous’. Covid-19 deaths were predicted to spike 80% in the US by February. Hospitals started to consider rationing health care at overwhelmed facilities. Yet the White House listed ending the Covid-19 pandemic as an accomplishment.

Trump tweeted that the US had more cases than other countries because it tested more. While his testing czar denied Trump had told him to slow down testing, Dr. Fauci called the testing supply shortages “disconcerting.” Meanwhile the NIH worked to boost national COVID-19 testing capacity.

And so the day of the election dawned — without a vaccine. Cynically, Trump had encouraged his supporters to vote in person so that their votes would often be counted before those of the more cautious Democrats who voted by mail. He would then claim victory when he was winning the early count, and cry foul when the absentee ballot counts were added later. He would also try to get any ballots arriving after polling day declared invalid and any others submitted under special rules for the pandemic. His team filed at least 60 cases and lost at least 59 of them. There’s no telling how many of his supporters caught COVID, or how many of them or their families and other contacts died or became disabled as a result.

To see far more examples of Trump downplaying the virus, blaming others and falsely boasting about how well he is doing and how everything is under control, as well as what others are saying and doing, and who he came into contact with who caught COVID, please click here.

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Sue Nethercott

Sue Nethercott

Open University BA, UMIST MSc, OU BSc Environmental Studies. Interests: environment, COVID19. Double #ostomate. Thom Hartmann’s newsletter editor. Views my own.