PHILADELPHIA • US President Donald Trump has said that a vaccine against the deadly coronavirus could be three or four weeks away, despite caution sounded by some American public health officials over the accelerated timeline.
Mr Trump, speaking at a town hall meeting hosted by ABC News in Philadelphia on Tuesday, defended his handling of the Covid-19 crisis, and said a vaccine could be ready for distribution before the US presidential election on Nov 3.
"We're very close to having a vaccine," he said. "If you want to know the truth, the previous administration would have taken perhaps years to have a vaccine because of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and all the approvals. And we're within weeks of getting it... Could be three weeks, four weeks."
Earlier this month, top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci told CNN most experts believe a vaccine will be ready by November or December. Other experts said a scientifically credible vaccine will not be available until early next year.
Mr Trump bristled at tough questions at the meeting, arguing that his decision to impose travel bans on China and Europe had saved thousands, if not millions, of lives.
The United States has reported nearly 6.6 million Covid-19 cases, the highest number worldwide, and nearly 195,000 deaths. That accounts for 20 per cent of the cases worldwide, though the US has just 4 per cent of the world's population.
Mr Trump had said the number was due to the US conducting more testing than other countries. He had also said the virus would disappear on its own.