President Trump says he would "rapidly" mobilize the U.S. military to distribute a coronavirus vaccine once it's ready, focusing first on nursing homes and the elderly most vulnerable to deadly complications from the virus. Mr. Trump made the comments during an interview with Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo.
"We're mobilizing our military and other forces but we're mobilizing our military on the basis that we do have a vaccine. You know, it's a massive job to give this vaccine. Our military is now being mobilized so at the end of the year we're going to be able to give it to a lot of people very, very rapidly," the president said.
"We will have a tremendous force because assuming we get it, then you have to distribute it," he added. "And unless you're mobilized and ready, you're not going to be able to do it for a long time. So we're starting now."
The president said he expects a vaccine to be available by the end of this year, a very optimistic timeline given that many experts, including Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci, say it will take at least 12 to 18 months. The virus has killed more than 84,000 Americans so far, as states begin to reopen their economies. The president indicated he expects that number to continue to climb.
"We will lose over 100,000, perhaps, in this country," the president said in the interview that aired Thursday.
A CBS News poll released Thursday shows 43% of Americans think the president is doing a good job handling the virus, down from 48% in April and 53% in March.
Most Americans also don't trust the president for information about the virus, the poll found. Only 38% of Americans said they do, compared with 61% who trust their governor and 62% who trust Fauci.