Barack Obama, 58, hit out at Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as the 44th president told high school seniors “a lot of folks are pretending to be charge”. Without naming Mr Trump, he suggested that “so-called grown-ups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs” who do “what feels good, what’s convenient, what’s easy” are the reason why things “are so screwed up”. Mr Obama’s two-hour event for US students was a clear snub at the president.
In a video message, the former president said: “These aren’t normal times. You’re being asked to find your way in the world in the middle of a devastating pandemic and a terrible recession.
“The timing is not ideal and let’s be honest, a disease like this just spotlights the underlying inequalities and extra burdens the black communities have historically had to deal with in this country.
“We see it in the disproportionate impact of COVID-19.”
He continued: “More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that the folks in charge know what they’re doing.
Barack Obama has hit out at Donald Trump in an online video
Donald Trump has been torn apart for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic
“A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.
“If the world’s going to get better, it’s going to be up to you.
“With everything suddenly feeling like its up for grabs, this is your time to seize the initiative.
“No one can tell you anymore that you should be waiting your turn. No one can tell you anymore this is how it’s always been done.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 1,412,121 coronavirus cases
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 1,412,121 coronavirus cases, 85,990 deaths.
Trump said on Friday the US government was working with other countries to develop, quickly, a vaccine to prevent infection by the coronavirus while also preparing for its distribution once one is ready.
At an event in the White House Rose Garden, in which many administration officials wore masks but the president did not, Trump expressed his hope that a vaccine would be in place before the end of the year, and said his administration would mobilize its forces to get a vaccine distributed.
Trump said the government would invest in all the top coronavirus vaccine candidates, and said a list had been narrowed to 14 promising potential vaccines with a plan to narrow further.
Former GlaxoSmithKline executive Moncef Slaoui, who Trump has tapped to help spearhead the vaccine effort, expressed optimism that progress would be made before the end of the year.
“I have very recently seen early data from a clinical trial with a coronavirus vaccine. And these data made me feel even more confident that we will be able to deliver a few hundred million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020,” he said.
Slaoui did not mention which vaccine, but one developed by Moderna Inc with help from the National Institutes of Health recently won approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to advance to the next phase of clinical trials. Slaoui had been a Moderna board member before taking up his new US post.
Experts have warned that it would likely take 12 to 18 months or more to get a vaccine ready for the public. The president has sought to speed up that time frame while also playing down the need for a vaccine as he encourages US states to reopen their economies.