President Donald Trump’s bet that a proven-effective coronavirus vaccine will be the October surprise to catapult him into a second term is facing increasingly long odds.
But that doesn’t mean he won’t find just enough reason to declare victory anyway.
While the race to find an effective vaccine for Covid-19 has crucial implications for nations around the world, it also carries political ramifications in the United States — with Trump banking heavily on finding a vaccine to quell both the pandemic and mounting unhappiness over his handling of the coronavirus response.
Buoyed by a series of encouraging early trial results, the administration is laying the groundwork for a high-profile rollout of initial coronavirus vaccines in as little as three months. It’s a best-case timetable that also tracks with the final weeks before the Nov. 3 election. The White House’s Operation Warp Speed has poured billions of dollars into developing a vaccine in record time, funding several efforts in parallel and buying up doses of the experimental shots in a wager that one will ultimately pay off.
“We’ll end up with a cure,” Trump asserted on Tuesday. “We’re very close to the vaccine — I think we’re going to have some very good results.”
It’s a hope that the president has fixated on amid months of grim news — and one that’s unnerved many researchers across the country, who worry the White House will turn delicate scientific process into yet another political flash point.
There is virtually no chance that the U.S. will have a proven vaccine by Election Day, several top vaccine experts told POLITICO. It could also take well into 2021 to produce and distribute the hundreds of millions of shots needed to inoculate the entire country.