“It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better, something I don’t like saying about things, but that’s the way it is,” Trump said at the White House without any other members of the coronavirus task force present. “You look over the world, it’s all over the world.“
Later in Tuesday’s press conference, the president said the virus “will disappear,” a claim he has made several times throughout the pandemic.
Nonetheless, Trump said the development of a vaccine “remains a top priority” and that the military is standing by to distribute it.
“Candidates are entering the final stage of clinical trials this month. This was achieved in record time,” Trump said. “Logistically, we have the military ready to go. We have great people, logistic military people, a wonderful general who's waiting for the vaccine so they can distribute it in record time. That's what's going to happen. So our military is all set to go. We will deliver a vaccine.”
As Trump touted the development of a vaccine at the White House, pharmaceutical executives sought to reassure lawmakers on Capitol Hill that they were not lowering safety standards for the sake of speed.
"First of all, all of our interactions with the regulators have given us no evidence that they're lowering the standards or thinking about lowering their standards," Dr. Mene Pangalos, AstraZeneca's executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals R&D, said Tuesday. "Secondly, as a company, we will always think about safety and efficacy first and foremost and making sure that we have an effective medicine."
Moderna, Janssen, Merck, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer executives were also on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Companies are at different stages in the development process, with AstaZenca most optimistic that it will have a vaccine by October.
But even if a vaccine is available that quickly, only half of Americans say they would get the vaccine, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll in May. A fifth of Americans said they would refuse a vaccine.
The Trump administration announced the $10 billion "Operation Warp Speed" program earlier this year with the goal of getting 300 million Americans a vaccine by January 2021.
Trump also encouraged everyone to socially distance and offered what is probably his most explicit endorsement of face masks since the pandemic began.
"We're asking everybody that when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask, get a mask," the president said. "Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact, they'll have an effect. We need everything we can get."