Trump says he's responsible for coronavirus vaccine but not 246,000 dead Americans

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Trump's first reaction to positive news on vaccine development was to demand credit.

Donald Trump on Monday responded to positive news about the effectiveness of a second coronavirus vaccine, demanding personal credit for the vaccine's development.

"Another Vaccine just announced. This time by Moderna, 95% effective. For those great 'historians', please remember that these great discoveries, which will end the China Plague, all took place on my watch!" Trump tweeted.

It's the second time in as many weeks that Trump has tried to take credit for the development of such a vaccine.

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Last week, he tried to claim responsibility for Pfizer's announcement that its vaccine had also been deemed effective, even though Pfizer was not part of Operation Warp Speed, the federal program aimed at finding a vaccine for the deadly virus.

"As a result of Operation Warp Speed, Pfizer announced on Monday that its China virus vaccine was more than 90% effective. ...Pfizer said it wasn’t part of Warp Speed, but that turned out to be an unfortunate misrepresentation," he claimed.

As the Associated Press noted, Pfizer, in fact, "did not accept government money to develop, test or expand manufacturing capacity under Trump’s Operation Warp Speed initiative [...]." A spokeswoman told the outlet that the company "decided to self-fund our efforts so we could move as fast as possible."

Moderna, by contrast, did receive funding from the federal government, some $1 billion for "research and development," according to the Washington Post.

While Trump is demanding credit for the vaccine, he has yet to take credit for the more than 246,000 people and counting who have died from the coronavirus in the United States.

Nor has he taken responsibility for downplaying the virus' severity for months, undermining public health experts' advice on wearing masks, or for ignoring public health guidelines to hold large events with maskless attendees — three of which have now become coronavirus superspreader events.

Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump also said he took no "responsibility at all" for the lack of coronavirus testing.

At the final presidential debate before the 2020 election — which Trump lost in a "landslide" by his own measure — Trump almost took responsibility for the pandemic, before immediately reneging.

When asked by debate moderator Kirsten Welker about whether he would take responsibility for his administration's response failure, Trump replied, "I take full responsibility. It’s not my fault that it came here. It’s China’s fault."

President-elect Joe Biden, for his part, was more measured in his response to the vaccine news, saying that while the vaccine development is a positive step, Americans still needed to social distance and wear masks to avoid spread before the vaccine is widely available.

"Today's news of a second vaccine is further reason to feel hopeful. What was true with the first vaccine remains true with the second: we are still months away. Until then, Americans need to continue to practice social-distancing and mask-wearing to get the virus under control," Biden tweeted.

Biden also thanked the scientists working on the vaccine. "Once again, I congratulate the brilliant women and men who produced this breakthrough and have brought us one step closer to beating this virus," he said. "I am also thankful for the frontline workers who are still confronting the virus around the clock."

Ultimately, Biden will inherit Trump's botched and messy response to the pandemic, which has left many states scrambling and threatened to overwhelm the U.S. health care system.

Trump's refusal to allow a transition could also hamstring Biden's coronavirus response further, as Trump's administration is not allowing Biden access to the government employees working with companies developing vaccines.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who is also helping lead the government's coronavirus response, urged Trump to work with the incoming Biden administration.

"It's almost like passing a baton in a race: You don't want to stop and then give it to somebody, you want to just essentially keep going," Fauci said on CNN. "And that is what transition is."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.