Topline

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday pushed back on claims by President Trump and his allies that he and Sen. Kamala Harris are “anti-vaccine,” asserting that while he trusts vaccines and scientists, his concern about vaccines comes from a distrust of Trump.

Key Facts

After Harris refused to commit to personally taking a vaccine put out by the administration, Trump accused the Democratic ticket of being “anti-vaccine” and blasted them for “political rhetoric” on vaccines – though Biden later said he would take one “tomorrow” if approved by scientists.

“Let me be clear: I trust vaccines, I trust scientists, but I don’t trust Donald Trump,” Biden said in Wilmington, Delaware, after a briefing on vaccines by health experts, adding, “at this point the American people can’t either.”

Biden called Trump “the same guy who said inject bleach” – referring to Trump’s claim in April that injecting disinfectants could be a coronavirus treatment – adding that the president’s apparent lack of scientific understand is the reason the public is “not so certain” about vaccines.

Biden alleged that Trump has put political pressure on the vaccine process, pointing to reports that public health officials in the federal government, who he called “very, very good people,” have been “quashed” and “pressured” by the White House.

“Scientific breakthroughs don’t care about calendars anymore than the virus does,” Biden said, adding that they “certainly don’t adhere to election cycles” in response to Trump’s common claim that a vaccine will be available before election day.

But, the former Vice President said, people should be confident in a vaccine put out by the administration if they can demonstrate “total transparency” so that a board of scientists “outside the government” can “know exactly what is being approved” and approve it themselves.

Crucial Quote

“A vaccine would offer a way back to normalcy and a path toward better days to all of us, not only here but around the world. But it’s not going to happen overnight. Once we have it it’s going to take months to distribute it,” Biden said, echoing top public health experts who said Wednesday that a vaccine likely won’t be widely available until well into 2021.

Chief Critic

“Joe Biden trying to sound smart talking about the coronavirus vaccine sounds like a person who just read the Wikipedia page on vaccines and now wants to tell the world what they just read,” tweeted GOP rapid response director Steve Guest, with Trump campaign deputy director of communications Matt Wolking accusing Biden of “sowing fear about a vaccine.”

Big Number

44%. That’s the percent of American adults who said in an NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll in August that they would take a coronavirus vaccine approved by the government. As much as 22% said they would not take one, while 33% said they were unsure.

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