Donald Trump has spoken publicly for the first time since losing the election giving a briefing at the White House on coronavirus treatments and the administration’s Operation Warp Speed designed to develop a vaccine.
A deflated-looking president touted the success of the program, pointing to the Pfizer vaccine which made headlines this week after the announcement of successful trials.
In a press conference that was characteristically heavy on braggadocio and light on detail, Trump said he expected an emergency use authorisation for Pfizer's vaccine "extremely soon".
The Food and Drug Administration, however, has not yet been asked to grant the necessary emergency approvals.
Despite Pfizer earlier saying the company was not part of Operation Warp Speed, the president claimed that was “a mistake when they said that”, and the company had indeed accepted funding to manufacture the vaccine.
As the country continues to hit all time highs in daily virus cases and hospitalisations with uncontrolled spread of the virus in almost every state, Trump said he expected a vaccine to be available for the entire US population as soon as April.
In what was described as a “bizarre” press conference, there were caveats to the rollout, however.
Trump took aim at New York governor Andrew Cuomo over comments he made that people were right to be skeptical of a vaccine overseen by the current presidential administration.
“As soon as April the vaccine will be available for the entire general population, with the exception of places like New York State where, for political reasons, the governor decided to say – and I don’t think it’s good politically, I think it’s very bad from a health standpoint – he wants to take his time with the vaccine, he doesn’t trust where the vaccine is coming from,” he said.
“He doesn’t trust the fact that it’s this White House, this administration, so we won’t be delivering it to New York until we have authorisation to do so. It pains me to say that.”
Trump again downplayed the severity of the outbreak in the United States and made false claims about testing numbers.
Trump appeared ‘deflated and desperate’
But there was one question that the world was tuning in for – and at one point, Trump appeared to acknowledge the reality of a forthcoming Joe Biden administration.
“Ideally, we won't go to a lockdown. I will not go, this administration will not be going to a lockdown,” he said.
“Hopefully the, the - uh - whatever happens in the future - who knows which administration it will be. I guess time will tell,” he said.
The momentary slip did not go unnoticed.
Trump just almost accidentally conceded during this bizarre press conference
— David Pakman (@dpakman) November 13, 2020
Trump was followed by the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, and vice president Mike Pence who lavished the president with praise and tried to put a positive spin on the country’s pandemic response which has endured the highest death toll in the world.
“Super bizarre underling praise for Trump’s pandemic response, like North Korea level delusion,” tweeted Mark Fullman, National Affairs Editor for Mother Jones.
Amid his rambling braggadocio and exaggerations, Trump seems deflated and desperate for a positive legacy.
— Malcolm Farr (@farrm51) November 13, 2020
Trump’s having a presser right now. He looks defeated. As he should.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) November 13, 2020
For a president who has relished the bully pulpit, he did not take questions from the assembled press. As he walked off, journalists yelled their questions at the president as they clamoured to ask him why he still has not conceded the election loss.
“When will you admit you lost the election, sir?” one reporter yelled loudly over the commotion as Trump walked away.
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