President Trump said Monday his administration has asked pharmaceutical companies to “accelerate” efforts to create a coronavirus vaccine, just a day after the second confirmed U.S. fatality related to the virus.
The president, sitting alongside Colombian President Dubuque Marquez in the Oval Office, told reporters that pharmaceutical reps have been slated to visit the White House Monday for weeks, but that the meeting will now be focused on coronavirus and vaccines.
“We are working very hard with the CDC, with everyone on a subject that has become a big subject,” Trump said, noting that “our country is doing well” and that those leading the efforts to combat and control the virus are “doing a great job.”
“We have big meetings with the most powerful companies in the world,” Trump said of meetings slated for Monday afternoon. “When it comes to drugs and vaccines, maybe a cure is possible, so we’ll see about that.”
He added: “We’re going to have another subject, vaccines, and how they’re doing…We’ve asked them to accelerate whatever they’re doing in terms of vaccines, absolutely.”
The president was asked whether it was “safe” for him to continue to hold campaign-style rallies as the country battles the virus. “You should ask that to the Democrats…They’re all having rallies, they’re campaigning,” he quipped while saying, “I think it’s very safe.”
Trump’s comments come just days after he authorized new travel restrictions and warnings in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The administration’s strict travel warning affects Iran, Italy and South Korea.
“There’s no reason to panic at all. This is something that is being handled professionally,” he said, while also acknowledging more cases in the U.S. are “likely.”
The virus has sickened 89,000 people across 66 countries, resulting in at least 3,061 deaths including two in the U.S. Most of the deaths have occurred in mainland China.
Author: Brooke Singman