Rather than tackling the virus, which is spreading faster than ever and killing an average of more than 1,000 Americans a day, Trump has remained focused on unsubstantiated claims that the presidential election has been stolen.
Pharmaceutical giant Moderna said on Monday that its investigational vaccine was 94.5% effective, based on provisional data from an advanced stage clinical trial.
“Another vaccine has just been announced,” Trump tweeted, seeking to claim credit. “This time by Moderna, 95% efficient. For these great “historians”, remember that these great discoveries, which will put an end to the Chinese plague, all took place under my supervision!
Critics say Trump has all but surrendered to the pandemic, which has killed more than 244,000 people in the United States and averages over 100,000 cases per day. Michael Osterholm, an adviser to Biden, told NBC on Sunday: “We are in a very dangerous time – the most dangerous public health period since 1918.”
Still, Trump hasn’t attended a task force meeting for “at least five months,” public health expert Dr Anthony Fauci said on Sunday, and appears to have staked everything on a vaccine. Instead, Trump seemed consumed by the election – and now by denying its result.
Biden beat him by the same margin of 306-232 in the constituency Trump described as a “landslide” when he won in 2016. The Democrat also leads the popular vote with 5.5 million votes, or 3.6%, the ballots still being counted.
The Trump administration has failed to recognize Biden as president-elect, preventing his team from gaining access to government offices and funding. Democrats and some Republicans have warned that refusing to give Biden access to information poses a national security risk and hampers the battle against the virus, including planning for vaccine distribution.
Biden said the delay was “more embarrassing than debilitating” and that he continued to put his team and plans in place to deal with the pandemic and its economic fallout.
The pandemic is the most urgent crisis facing the new president. Ron Klain, who will be the White House chief of staff, said Biden’s advisers will meet with Pfizer and other drugmakers this week.
White House officials and Republicans in Congress are outnumbered by world leaders in acknowledging Biden’s victory. On Monday, Robert O’Brien, Trump’s national security adviser, noted that a transition would only take place “if the ongoing prosecution does not work for the president.”
But speaking at the Global Security Forum, O’Brien admitted: “If there is a new administration, they deserve a little time to come in and implement their policies.
“We may have political disagreements, but look, if the Biden-Harris ticket is determined to be the winner – and obviously it is this way now – we will have a very professional transition from the National Security Council. There is no doubt about it.
The president appeared on Sunday to publicly acknowledge that Biden won the election, but then backtracked and reiterated his false claim that the vote was rigged.
Trump, who has entrusted Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, with responsibility for his legal offensive, tweeted Sunday that he would soon be filing “big files” challenging the election results. However, his campaign has already lost many court battles and dropped much of a lawsuit aimed at preventing Pennsylvania from certifying its results, reducing the case to a small number of ballots. Biden won the state by more than 68,000 votes.
On Monday, Trump tweeted: “The radical left Democrats, together with their partner, Fake News Media, are trying to STEAL this election. We won’t let them!In a statement released last week by America’s leading cybersecurity agency, federal election security officials dismissed the “unsubstantiated allegations” and expressed “the utmost confidence” in the integrity of the elections. Officials from both sides said there was no evidence of major irregularities.
Biden has called Trump’s refusal to concede “embarrassment” and is continuing the transition. On Monday afternoon, he and his vice president Kamala Harris were scheduled to speak “of economic recovery and long-term reconstruction” in their first speech on the economic situation since their victory.
Biden presented a $ 7.3 billion pre-election plan that, among other goals, would bolster crumbling infrastructure, build a clean energy economy, and support domestic manufacturing with funding for research and development.
Its first objective is to have a new recovery plan adopted. But it’s unclear how likely he is to strike a deal as Republicans control the Senate, which will depend on the second round of elections in Georgia in January. Discussions on a new stimulus package have been stalled for months.
The economic situation has improved but remains on the cutting edge. Unemployment has fallen dramatically from a peak of 14.7% in April, but worrying signs remain.
By October, the unemployment rate had fallen to 6.9%, but the number of long-term unemployed – those without a job for 27 weeks or more – rose 1.2 million to 3.6 million. Nearly a third of the total number of people out of work are now long-term unemployed, with black Americans and Latin Americans suffering much higher unemployment rates than their white neighbors.
Job growth has continued to slow and every week people are filing unemployment claims at a rate even more than three times higher than before the pandemic.
Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economics Policy Institute, said: “If this drags on and the pace of job growth continues to slow, it will be years before we return to a pre-pandemic economy. Americans cannot afford the political games that are being played. “