The Health 202: Biden could take over the largest vaccine effort in U.S. history

The initiative’s chief operating officer similarly said the election shouldn’t affect the vaccine effort.

“I see nothing that would cause us to stop doing what we’re doing, no matter the results of the election,” Gen. Gustave Perna said at a Heritage Foundation event this week. “We got our heads down and driving the sleigh, and we are going to execute our mission as directed.”

But as president, Biden would face some tough questions in taking over Operation Warp Speed.

The initiative aims to deliver 300 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to Americans starting early next year. A coronavirus vaccine has yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but the Trump administration’s unprecedented effort has won praise even from skeptics who otherwise slam its response to the pandemic.

Paul Ostrowski, Operation Warp Speed’s director for supply, production and distribution, said yesterday they are “absolutely” on track to achieve the goal of having tens of millions of vaccine doses ready in December.

“We are actually going to exceed that expectation,” Ostrowski told CBS News. “We will have vaccines, we anticipate, prior to the turn of the new year.”

Biden is under pressure from some Democratic quarters to fire the head of the project, Moncef Slaoui, who was appointed by Trump in May.

Slaoui, who came from a venture capital firm investing in biotech companies, has held millions in stock on companies that are working to develop coronavirus vaccines. By working as a volunteer outside contractor for pay of just $1, Slaoui has been able to maintain personal investments and avoid making ethics disclosures.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other lawmakers have seized on the unusual situation, asking the consulting company that employs Slaoui to explain its role in his contract with the federal government. Warren has also said Slaoui should be the “first person to be fired.”

A Biden spokesman wouldn’t say yesterday whether the Democratic nominee would keep Slaoui in place.

Campaign spokesman Andrew Bates didn’t respond to a question about Biden’s plans on that front, instead providing a generic statement about how Biden will “empower scientific professionals” if elected.

“Why would anyone believe that the Trump Administration could competently execute on developing and distributing a vaccine to hundreds of millions of Americans?” Bates wrote in an email.

“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will provide the leadership that has been lacking under Trump to empower scientific professionals throughout our government — including those involved in Warp Speed — to ensure that a safe and effective vaccine is distributed equitably, efficiently, and free to all Americans,” he added.

Biden’s campaign website criticizes Operation Warp Speed, saying the initiative “lacks sound leadership, global vision, or a strategy for securing the necessary funding to see this mission through or secure trust from Americans who depend on its success.”

But Operation Warp Speed has already inked more than a dozen contracts. 

The next president won’t be sworn in until the end of January. By that time – if all goes according

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Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought ‘9/11 attack was 7/11 attack’

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenObama slams Trump in Miami: ‘Florida Man wouldn’t even do this stuff’ Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Brad Pitt narrates Biden ad airing during World Series MORE (D) defended his mental acuity and took shots at President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama slams Trump in Miami: ‘Florida Man wouldn’t even do this stuff’ Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Pence’s chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19 MORE during an interview airing Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”

Anchor Norah O’Donnell asked Biden about claims from the Trump campaign that he suffers from dementia, a general catch-all medical term for symptoms ranging from memory loss to impairment of problem-solving abilities.

“[You are] 78 years old. [You’ll be] 82 after four years. Donald Trump says you have dementia and it’s getting worse,” O’Donnell told Biden.

“Hey, the same guy who thought that the 911 attack was a 7-Eleven attack,” Biden responded, jokingly. “He’s talking about dementia?”

“All I can say to the American people is watch me, is see what I’ve done, is see what I’m going to do. Look at me,” Biden continued. “Compare our physical and mental acuity. I’m happy to have that comparison.”

The Trump campaign has sought to suggest in recent months that videos showing Biden speaking unclearly at times are evidence of the former vice president’s mental decline. Biden’s campaign has accused the Trump campaign in response of making light of the stutter from which the former vice president has suffered since he was a child.

“Did something happen to Joe Biden?” the text of an ad questioning his mental faculties produced by the Trump campaign asked in August.

Biden, who would be the oldest president ever elected, at 77, has frequently dismissed criticism on the manner from the Trump campaign. Trump himself was the oldest president ever elected upon his victory in 2016, when he was 70 years old.

“I’ve been tested and I’m constantly tested,” Biden said in June. “Look, all you gotta do is watch me, and I can hardly wait to compare my cognitive capability to the cognitive capability of the man I’m running against.”

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Trump, Biden final arguments at opposite ends on COVID-19

President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump, Jared Kusher’s lawyer threatens to sue Lincoln Project over Times Square billboards Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump’s attack on ‘socialized medicine’ MORE and Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenFacebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump’s attack on ‘socialized medicine’ Senate GOP to drop documentary series days before election hitting China, Democrats over coronavirus MORE are offering opposing visions of responding to the coronavirus crisis as a new wave of cases mounts just ahead of Election Day. 

Biden warned of a “dark winter” at Thursday night’s debate as new cases in the United States near a record high and hospitalizations rise again. 

Despite this worsening outlook, Trump struck an optimistic message, saying the virus is “going away” and the country is “rounding the turn.”

Biden is hammering Trump over his response to the virus, which has killed more than 220,000 Americans so far. The country is now averaging about 60,000 cases per day, a number that is rising as the weather gets colder. Hospitalizations, after falling in the late summer, are now rising again too. 

The former vice president immediately followed up the debate with a speech on responding to the pandemic on Friday. 

“He’s given up, he’s quit on you, he’s quit on your family,” Biden said of Trump. “We don’t have to be held prisoner by this administration’s failures.”

Biden and Trump diverge not just on their outlooks, but in how forcefully they would marshal the powers of the federal government. 

Biden is calling for new investments in rapid tests that can be done at home and called for a seven-fold increase in testing on Friday. Trump has repeatedly downplayed the need for more testing and blamed testing for showing the country has more cases. 

Biden says he will urge every governor to impose a mask mandate and encourages their use, while Trump has repeatedly mocked masks and rarely worn one himself. A study published in the journal Nature Medicine on Friday estimated that 130,000 lives could be saved through the end of February if everyone wore a mask. 

On Friday, Trump was surrounded in the Oval Office by dozens of people, almost all maskless, for an event on Sudan launching into new relations with Israel.

Biden is calling for “evidence-based national guidance” on when schools and businesses should open or close, depending on the level of virus circulating in an area. 

Trump, in contrast, says “we have to open our country” and has gone on the attack against Biden for being open to further lockdowns.

Pressed on that issue at the debate, Biden said, “I’m going to shut down the virus, not the country,” while leaving open the possibility of future closures of high-risk businesses like bars and gyms, places that experts have identified as significant sources of spread. 

Sensing the Republican attacks, Biden emphasized again on Friday: “I’m not

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Both Biden and Trump have questioned the other’s physical and mental fitness. Here’s what we know about their health.

President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden have both battled life-threatening illnesses at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, a facility they entered 32 years apart with uncertainty over whether they would return alive.

a person riding a motorcycle on a city street: Trump supporters gather outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Oct. 5 in Bethesda, Md., where the president was being treated for the coronavirus.

© Matt McClain/The Washington Post
Trump supporters gather outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Oct. 5 in Bethesda, Md., where the president was being treated for the coronavirus.

For Trump, his diagnosis with the novel coronavirus earlier this month was his most serious known brush with a fatal disease, and his rapidly dropping oxygen levels sparked grave concern among his top aides and doctors. For Biden, emergency surgery for two brain aneurysms in 1988 posed the risk of impaired cognitive capabilities, or worse. While he ultimately fully recovered, the situation was so dire at the time that a priest was brought in to deliver last rites.


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Both episodes have become political fodder for opposing sides less than two weeks ahead of a presidential election in which the two septuagenarian candidates are competing for a chance to be the oldest sitting president in American history. More broadly, the health of each man has become a central component of an increasingly negative race in which questioning an opponent’s fitness for office has taken a personal turn.

Trump and his allies have regularly sought to raise doubts about Biden’s mental acuity, with the president telling Fox News in recent days that his rival could not complete his sentences.

“They said if you let him talk, he’ll lose his chain of thought because he’s gonzo,” Trump said during a 50-minute interview with the network in the lead-up to Thursday’s presidential debate. “There were a lot of people that say let him talk because he loses his train . . . He loses his mind, frankly.”

Trump’s opponents have openly questioned his mental wellness, with Biden campaign officials mocking him for musing about the medical efficacy of injecting disinfectant and for celebrating his ability to recite five simple words in order during a cognitive test.

Trump’s battle with the coronavirus highlighted his preexisting physical challenges. The Biden campaign has run ads showing Trump struggling to walk down a ramp.

Both candidates have not been fully transparent about their health status, even as they claim to be in excellent shape. They have released information from doctors declaring them strong and energetic, while downplaying or concealing information that may undercut those descriptions. Neither has allowed access to their complete medical records.

Trump has been especially secretive, concealing information about his coronavirus infection and treatment, and providing contradictory answers about why he made a separate unplanned visit to Walter Reed last November.

For Trump, an overweight 74-year-old and recent survivor of covid-19, and Biden, a 77-year-old who today has a few minor medical conditions, proving to voters that they are fit for the job of president is a particularly critical task in the frantic final days of the race.

The challenge has been made more difficult as the two

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Biden called Trump ‘a very confused guy’ in debate over healthcare

  • Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden described President Donald Trump as “a very confused guy” when the president falsely claimed Biden supports “socialized medicine” during Thursday’s debate. 
  • “He thinks he’s running against somebody else. He’s running against Joe Biden. I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them,” said the former vice president.
  • Trump repeated the false claim that 180 million Americans stand to lose their private health insurance under Biden’s plan.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called President Donald Trump “a very confused guy” when the president falsely claimed Biden supports “socialized medicine” during Thursday night’s presidential debate. 

In a discussion about healthcare, Trump said Biden’s plan to expand the Affordable Care Act by adding a public option would “destroy” Medicare and Social Security, and amount to socialism. The former vice president, who doesn’t support Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal, went on the attack in response. 

“He’s a very confused guy,” Biden said. “He thinks he’s running against somebody else. He’s running against Joe Biden. I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them.” 

The president also falsely claimed that 180 million Americans would lose their private health insurance under Biden’s plan. While Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal would eliminate private insurance, Biden’s plan wouldn’t. 

Biden’s plan, which he called “Bidencare,” would allow Americans under 65 to receive Medicare — a public option on the healthcare exchanges. His plan would also seek to make healthcare plans on the exchanges more affordable by lowering the limit on how much plans can cost and get rid of the cap on insurance subsidies.

Trump didn’t deliver any new details about his long-promised healthcare proposal. 

The president’s domestic policy chief recently told Business Insider that an Obamacare replacement is still “being worked on.”


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Fact checking Trump and Biden


Fact check: Trump claims Mueller saw his tax returns and found there was nothing wrong in them

Statement: President Trump: “Mueller and 18 angry Democrats and FBI agents all over the place spent 48 million dollars. They went through everything I had, including my tax returns, and they found absolutely no collusion and nothing wrong.”

Claim: Trump claims special counsel Robert Mueller saw his tax returns and found there was nothing wrong in them.

Fact check: False


The special counsel’s probe did not exonerate Mr. Trump on his taxes. The president said it’s likely that Robert Mueller looked at his tax returns and claims it would have been easy for him to do so. 

But there is no evidence that he did so. Mueller’s 448-page report includes no mention of Mr. Trump’s tax returns or any significant analysis of his businesses.  Senator Amy Klobuchar asked Attorney General William Barr about Mr. Trump’s taxes during a hearing, and Barr said he had no evidence that Mueller looked at the president’s taxes. 

Martin Sheil, a retired official from the IRS Criminal Investigation Unit, wrote in the The Hill in 2019 that it would have been very difficult for Mueller to obtain the president’s tax records unless he had already proven that a crime had been committed. He also said Mueller would likely have to go to court to get Mr. Trump’s tax records, and there is no evidence that Mueller did that either. 

“So when President Trump muses out loud that he assumes Mueller looked at his tax returns, he may very well be making a false assumption,” wrote Sheil.


Fact check: Trump says “99.9 (%) of young people recover; 99% of people recover” from COVID-19

Statement: President Trump: “99.9 (%) of young people recover; 99% of people recover.”

Claim: Trump claims 99.9% of young people recover and 99% of people recover from COVID-19.

Fact check: Misleading


Based on identified cases, the CDC shows an overall cumulative case death rate of 4.5%. About 4% of new cases require hospitalization. 

Among young people, according to the CDC, the survival rate for COVID-19 among people 19 years of age and younger is 99.997%. The survival rate among individuals age 20 to 49 is 99.98%.  

But studying the death rate from the virus is complicated because drops in the overall U.S. death rate for COVID-19 coincides with a change in whom the disease is sickening. Studies that have calculated the death rate based on broader antibody testing suggest an infection death rate of less than 1%.  


Fact check: Trump says we’re “rounding the turn” on coronavirus

Statement: President Trump: “It will go away. And as I say, we’re rounding the turn. We’re rounding the corner. It’s going away.”

Claim: Trump claims that the coronavirus is going away.

Fact check: False  


Cases and hospitalizations are currently rising in the U.S.

  • Coronavirus cases are currently increasing in at least 34 states, according

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Biden warns of ‘dark winter’ in America

Joe Biden warned at Thursday night’s presidential debate that the U.S. was “about to go into a dark winter,” echoing the concerns of public health experts who caution about increased daily Covid-19 case counts converging with the annual flu season.

Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: Biden’s remarks came after President Donald Trump offered a rosy, unrealistic timeline for vaccine distribution.

© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Biden’s remarks came after President Donald Trump offered a rosy, unrealistic timeline for vaccine distribution.

“We’re about to go into a dark winter. A dark winter,” Biden said. “And he has no clear plan, and there’s no prospect that there’s going to be a vaccine available for the majority of the American people before the middle of next year.”

Biden’s remarks came after President Donald Trump offered a rosy, unrealistic timeline for vaccine distribution. Responding to the Democratic nominee, the president said: “I don’t know if we’re going to have a dark winter at all. We’re opening up our country. We’ve learned and studied and understand the disease, which we didn’t at the beginning.”

Video: With election nearing, Trump takes aim at Fauci (Reuters – US Video Online)

With election nearing, Trump takes aim at Fauci



The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, previously predicted in July that “the fall and the winter of 2020 and 2021 are going to be probably one of the most difficult times that we’ve experienced in American public health.”

But Trump insisted Thursday that Americans were “learning to live with” the pandemic. “We have no choice. We can’t lock ourselves up in a basement like Joe does,” he said.

When it was Biden’s turn to weigh in, the former vice president retorted: “People are learning to die with it.” The two candidates then sparred over Trump’s travel restrictions on China, and whether Biden considered the measure xenophobic.

“My response is he is xenophobic,” Biden said of Trump, “but not because he shut down access from China.”

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Biden sees a ‘dark winter’ ahead on coronavirus, while Trump says the U.S. is ’rounding the turn’

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President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden disagreed sharply during Thursday’s final presidential debate of 2020 about how the coronavirus pandemic would play out in the United States over the winter.


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Trump was asked about his assertion that America was “rounding the turn” on the pandemic and that a vaccine for COVID-19 would be ready in a matter of weeks, in the face of less optimistic estimates from members of his own administration and the companies currently working to produce one.

“I think my timeline is going to be more accurate,” Trump said at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. “I don’t know that they’re counting on the military the way I do, but we have our generals lined up, one in particular, that’s the head of logistics and this is a very easy distribution. He’s ready to go, as soon as we have the vaccine and we expect to have a hundred million vials of the vaccine, he’s ready to go.”

Biden responded by questioning the president’s credibility on the issue. “This is the same fellow who told you this is going to end by Easter last time. This is the same fellow who told you that, ‘Don’t worry, we’re going to end this this summer,’” Trump said. “We’re about to enter a dark winter, a dark winter, and he has no clear plan and he has no prospects that there’s going to be a vaccine for the majority of the American people before the middle of next year.”

Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: Joe Biden speaks during the final 2020 U.S. presidential campaign debate in the Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., October 22, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

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Joe Biden speaks during the final 2020 U.S. presidential campaign debate in the Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., October 22, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Trump, however, saw a much rosier situation.

“I don’t think we’re going to have a dark winter, at all. We’re opening up our country. We’ve learned and studied and understand the disease, which we didn’t at the beginning,” Trump said.

Trump has often assured the country that the pandemic is “going to go away by itself,” with or without a vaccine. The number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths have been rising in recent weeks, as Biden pointed out.

“Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America. We’re in a situation where there are a thousand deaths a day and there are over 70,000 new cases per day,” Biden said, adding, “The expectation is that we’ll have another 200,000 dead by the end of the year. Come on.”



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Trump vs. Biden On Health Care: Compare Their Platforms : Shots

President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have widely divergent views on health care issues.

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President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have widely divergent views on health care issues.

Patrick Semansky/AP

Health care was going to be the defining issue of the 2020 election before a pandemic and economic upheaval eclipsed pretty much everything else. But of course, the pandemic has highlighted many health policy issues.

With a highly contagious virus spreading around the world, “you might be thinking more about the importance of health insurance, or you may be worried about losing your job, which is where you get your health insurance,” says Sabrina Corlette, co-director of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University. “The COVID pandemic and health policy are intertwined.”

Meanwhile, the choice between the two major presidential candidates on health policy could not be more stark. Drawing from President Trump’s record on health care and former Vice President Joe Biden’s policy proposals, here’s a guide to where they stand.

The Affordable Care Act

The candidates’ visions differ radically on the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, which was enacted in 2010.

“President Trump has — from Day 1 — pushed for repealing or overturning the ACA, and Joe Biden is pushing to build and expand on it,” says Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments on the latest challenge to the ACA on Nov. 10. If the court does overturn the law, the president and Congress will have to work quickly to address the possibility of tens of millions becoming uninsured.

One of the ACA’s most popular provisions is protection for people with preexisting conditions from being denied coverage or charged higher premiums. Trump has promised to keep this part of the law but hasn’t offered specifics on how, and policy experts warn it’s harder than it sounds.

Medicare and Medicaid

When it comes to Medicare and Medicaid, the federal health programs that together provide coverage to 115 million people, Trump has promoted the private market and given states control, while Biden wants to expand eligibility to both programs.

Trump has sought to bring drug costs down and provide more private plan options for beneficiaries in Medicare — the federal program for people over 65 — while supporting spending caps and work requirements for Medicaid — the state-run program for low-income adults, children, pregnant women and people with disabilities.

Biden would allow people to enroll in Medicare at age 60 and would also try to create a new federal health program similar to Medicare, which he calls a public option.

COVID-19 pandemic

Biden has remarked often that he would “listen to science” in handling the pandemic, drawing a contrast with Trump, who has repeatedly contradicted his top health officials.

Biden’s proposals emphasize the role of the federal government leading the response, while Trump has delegated

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Where Trump and Biden Stand on Health Care

This article is part of a Wall Street Journal guide comparing President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden on issues from climate change to health care and jobs.

WASHINGTON—Most of the differences between President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on health care align on a central dispute: Mr. Trump wants to reduce the federal government’s role in Americans’ health care, while Mr. Biden wants to expand it.

Both agree that health-care costs should be reduced, but they disagree on how to address the coronavirus pandemic, health coverage, driving down prescription-drug prices and lowering insurance premiums.

Mr. Trump has backed much of a lawsuit to strike down the Affordable Care Act, which sought to set certain basic coverage thresholds nationwide while providing federal subsidies for people to pay for insurance. The president has moved to push decision-making away from Washington and back to the states. He has supported work requirements in Medicaid and backs letting states pursue new arrangements to pay for Medicaid. He also wants to let states import certain drugs from other countries such as Canada to spur competition and reduce prices.

Election 2020 Policy Issues

See where President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden stand on policy issues from Big Tech, taxes and immigration

Mr. Biden has called for the federal government to subsidize insurance for some people in states that didn’t expand Medicaid by automatically enrolling them in a federal public option that would resemble Medicare. The former vice president has said he would seek to reverse Trump administration changes that have undermined the ACA, and has proposed expanding the program by allowing people to buy into the public option. Mr. Biden has argued for allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

Coronavirus Response

Mr. Trump, who this month tested positive for Covid-19, established a White House coronavirus task force in January to oversee the federal response to the pandemic, but he left many specific matters in the response, such as contact tracing and the acquisition of certain supplies, to the states. Mr. Biden has proposed that the federal government play a more centralized and active role in responding to the crisis.

Mr. Biden has said he would urge all Americans to wear masks and work with state leaders on mask mandates. Mr. Trump hasn’t called for mask mandates.

Mr. Biden would also restore funding to the World Health Organization. The president has been withdrawing the U.S. from the organization and redirecting the funding to other health programs.

Health Coverage

Mr. Trump had pledged to repeal the ACA and replace it with a better alternative but has failed to do either during his time in office. Mr. Trump has supported key parts of a lawsuit from a coalition of Republican-led states to invalidate the ACA. The case is set to be heard by the Supreme Court on Nov. 10.

Mr. Trump signed two executive orders in September declaring it the policy of the U.S. to provide insurance protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions

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