Asked by CNN’s Dana Bash in a clip released Saturday whether she would get a vaccine that was approved and distributed before the election, Harris replied, “Well, I think that’s going to be an issue for all of us.”
“I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump and it would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he’s talking about,” she continued in the clip from an exclusive interview airing Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” at 9 a.m. ET. “I will not take his word for it.”
CNN reported Thursday that Trump has pressured administration health officials to accelerate the vaccine’s development in an effort to convince voters of an impending end to the pandemic threatening his reelection. A number of sources familiar with the internal workings told CNN the responsibility feels immense and the environment is akin to that of a pressure cooker.
When asked by Bash whether she thought that public health experts and scientists would get the last word on the efficacy of a vaccine, Harris predicted that they will not.
“If past is prologue that they will not, they’ll be muzzled, they’ll be suppressed, they will be sidelined,” Harris said. “Because he’s looking at an election coming up in less than 60 days and he’s grasping to get whatever he can to pretend he has been a leader on this issue when he is not.”
The administration has sought to counter concerns that politics will influence elements of the vaccine’s development or distribution.
Moncef Slaoui, the chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed, said in an interview with Science published Thursday that he would resign from his role if there was undue interference in the Covid-19 vaccine effort.
“I have to say there has been absolutely no interference,” he continued, adding that he would be “out” if he saw a push for a US Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization that he didn’t believe in.
And administration health officials have continued to insist that no vaccine or treatment will be approved for use – either through full authorization or an emergency use designation – unless it is safe and effective.
“No one is pressuring the FDA to do anything,” Trump’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Thursday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said he would get a Covid-19 vaccination once a vaccine proves to be safe and effective and becomes available.
“I will look at the data and I would assume – and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the case – that a vaccine would not be approved for the American public unless it was indeed both safe and effective,” Fauci told CNN’s Jim Sciutto on Thursday. “If that’s the case Jim, I would not hesitate for a moment to take the vaccine myself and recommend it for my family.”
When asked by Bash in the interview airing Sunday if she feels more comfortable hearing those assurances from someone like Fauci, Harris said the nation’s top infectious disease expert has for years “put the public health of the American people as the highest priority in terms of his work, and his reputation and his priority.”
“Yes. I trust Dr. Fauci,” Harris continued. She said she “would trust the word of public health experts and scientists, but not Donald Trump.”
More than 6.2 million people have been infected in the US since the pandemic began, and at least 187,797 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.