WHITE HOUSE - U.S. President Donald Trump is predicting a COVID-19 vaccine might be ready by this year’s election, less than 90 days away.
“I’m optimistic that it’ll probably be around that date,” Trump told reporters on the White House South Lawn on Thursday.
“It wouldn’t hurt” his reelection chances to have the vaccine available by the November 3 election, he acknowledged. “I’m doing it not for the election. I want it fast because I want to save a lot of lives.”
Later, during remarks at a washing machine factory in Ohio, Trump reiterated there would be a vaccine soon: “I hope long before the end of the year.”
The scientific community, including prominent infectious disease experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is member of the White House coronavirus task force, however, expects that none of the numerous vaccine candidates now undergoing human trials will be ready until the end of the year or early 2021.
Trump spoke Thursday about the vaccine and the therapeutic treatments for COVID-19 patients during a visit to the critical election swing state of Ohio, where polls show him in a virtual tie with the presumptive Democratic Party nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden.
“We’re going to win bigger in Ohio than we did four years ago,” predicted Trump, speaking to a group of supporters on arrival in Cleveland on Thursday.
“He’s against God. He’s against guns,” Trump said of Biden. “I don’t think he’s going to do well in Ohio.”
No Republican candidate has ever won the presidential election, or reelection, without taking Ohio. Trump, in 2016, captured nearly 52% of the vote in the state against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s standing in Ohio and other key states this year has been hurt by unfavorable public perception of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump promised a revival for American manufacturing, something he highlighted in his remarks Thursday at a Whirlpool factory.
The president told the company’s workers he had gone beyond fulfilling the economic commitments made during the campaign four years ago.
“We produce more than I promise,” he said.
During the next four years, Trump said, he will bring back American jobs and factories using every tool at his disposal, including tariffs, countervailing duties and new trade deals.
At the factory, the president announced that earlier in the day he had signed a proclamation reimposing 10% tariffs on some Canadian aluminum products.
Canada vowed to hit back against the tariffs.
"In response to the American tariffs, Canada intends to swiftly impose dollar-for-dollar countermeasures," Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said.
Trump also on Thursday signed an executive order intended to ensure that essential medicines are manufactured in the United States.
Earlier, at Burke Lakefront Airport in downtown Cleveland, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine had been scheduled to greet the president on the tarmac. However, just before Trump’s departure from Washington, the governor’s office announced that DeWine had tested positive for the coronavirus following standard protocol testing ahead of meeting the president.
In a second more sensitive COVID-19 test administered Thursday in Columbus, DeWine tested negative for the coronavirus, according to the governor’s office.
Ohio Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted, who also took a COVID-19 test Thursday but had a negative result, stood in for the governor to greet Trump.
DeWine, in late July, issued a statewide mask mandate after previously reversing course on the idea in April.
Breaking ranks with other Republican governors, DeWine was one of the first state leaders to take steps to slow the spread of the virus, including promoting wearing of masks and social distancing.
Ohio has reported nearly 100,000 COVID-19 cases and about 3,600 deaths, according to the state health department’s COVID website.