DONALD TRUMP has hailed what he called ‘the fastest development in history’ towards a possible vaccine for Covid-19.
The US president also announced yesterday that he and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau had agreed to close the border between the two countries to all ‘non-essential traffic’.
Mr Trump praised human trials of a potential vaccine in Washington state, eight weeks after ‘the genetic sequence of the virus was published in January’.
He told a news conference: ‘It used to take years to do this but we did it in just a very short while — that’s the fastest development in history in regard to what we’re doing with the vaccine.’
Mr Trump risked continuing a spat with Beijing by referring to Covid-19 as ‘the Chinese virus’ and dodged an invitation to condemn an unnamed White House official who reportedly used the mocking term ‘kung flu’.
Covid-19 has now killed 116 people in the US and infected more than 6,500. As Mr Trump outlined plans to help businesses, he insisted ‘nobody’ was to blame, before pointing the finger at China. He said: ‘No, I don’t believe they are inflicting it — I think they could have given us a lot earlier notice, absolutely.’
Meanwhile, in New York, where cases rose by 1,008 in 24 hours to 2,382, mayor Bill de Blasio promised to sign an order postponing all elective surgeries so the city’s hospitals could focus on coronavirus patients.
Mr Trump also defended his handling of the crisis after criticisms that he downplayed the dangers for too long.
He said: ‘This is being handled very professionally — no one’s ever been swamped like this.’
The US Treasury has already announced plans to issue direct payments to Americans as part of a $1trillion (£850billion) rescue plan.