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Trump bemoans lack of vaccine credit amid mask news

The Hill logo The Hill 5/14/2021 Morgan Chalfant
Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Trump bemoans lack of vaccine credit amid mask news © Getty Images Trump bemoans lack of vaccine credit amid mask news

Former President Trump on Friday complained that his administration hasn't been given enough credit on coronavirus vaccines, a day after vaccinated Americans were advised they can go without masks in most settings - a major milestone in the fight against the pandemic.

Trump claimed in a statement that his administration through Operation Warp Speed came up with the vaccines "years ahead of schedule" but said it was "incredible" that "our names are not even mentioned in what everybody is calling the modern day miracle of the vaccines."

"Without the vaccines, this world would have been in for another 1917 Spanish Flu, where up to 100 million people died," Trump said. "Because of the vaccines we pushed and developed in record time, nothing like that will be even close to happening. Just a mention please! The Biden Administration had zero to do with it. All they did was continue our plan of distribution, which was working well right from the beginning!"

The vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Trump administration, but the Biden administration picked up the distribution of the vaccines once President Biden took office in January. The U.S. was administering vaccines to about 1 million American adults each day by the time that Biden took office, and the pace has significantly ramped up from there.

The Biden administration built on the Trump administration's vaccination program, ordering more vaccine doses, increasing the number of vaccination locations and vaccinators and invoking the Defense Production Act in order to ramp up production. After the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was approved by the FDA in late February, the Biden administration announced a partnership between Johnson & Johnson and competitor Merck to increase doses.


Video: Biden urges Trump to take coronavirus vaccine and promote masks (The Washington Post)

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The Biden administration has credited science and medical experts from the prior administration in the production of the vaccines. However, Biden has criticized Trump for his handling of the pandemic, including claiming that the previous administration had "no real plan" to vaccinate much of the country and that Trump "failed to order enough vaccines, failed to mobilize the effort to administer the shots, failed to set up vaccine centers."

Trump, who contracted the virus himself in October, was widely criticized for his response to the coronavirus pandemic, including his continuous effort to minimize the virus and act as if the outbreak was in the rearview mirror. Trump eschewed public health advice and held large campaign rallies as cases rose and said that the U.S. was "rounding the turn" on the virus even when COVID-19 cases were rising. He also rarely wore a face mask in public.

Biden's election was seen as a referendum on Trump's presidency, including his handling of the pandemic, which has to date killed more than 580,000 Americans.

The vaccine program was one of the bright spots of the previous administration's response to the pandemic, but Trump also oversold expectations by predicting that a vaccine would be available before the November 2020 election. The FDA authorized the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for emergency use in December.

Trump in his statement on Friday also claimed that "everybody," including Anthony Fauci, a main figure in the coronavirus response in both administrations, said that the vaccines would not be produced as quickly as they were. In fact, Fauci repeatedly predicted last year that millions of vaccine doses could be available by early 2021 and in December said vaccines could be widely available by April.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday advised vaccinated Americans that they can go without face masks in most indoor and outdoor settings. Biden cheered the development as a "great milestone" in remarks from the White House Rose Garden.

"It's been made possible by the extraordinary success we have had in vaccinating so many Americans, so quickly," Biden said, while urging those who have not yet been vaccinated to continue wearing masks.

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