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Psaki dismisses claim Biden promoted COVID vaccine hesitancy by accusing Trump of promoting ‘poison’

Press Secretary Jen Psaki brushed off accusations that Joe Biden ever promoted vaccine hesitancy while she hurled a jab at Donald Trump in a testy exchange with a Fox News reporter at a White House briefing Wednesday.

Fox’s Peter Doocy asked Psaki whether Biden ‘may have created some vaccine hesitancy’ with comments undermining his predecessor’s competency while his administration was racing to fight the COVID pandemic. 

‘At the time, when Donald Trump is out there saying ”We’re going to have a vaccine in the next couple of weeks, next couple of months,” and Joe Biden is on the campaign trail saying ”Don’t trust Donald Trump” – did that create any kind of vaccine hesitancy?’ he questioned.

Psaki replied, ‘Not that we’ve seen in the data.’

‘I would note that at the time, just for context, the former president was also suggesting people inject versions of poison into their veins to cure COVID, so I think that’s a relevant point.’ 

Fox News’ Peter Doocy confronted Jen Psaki on Biden’s comments about Trump’s vaccine development from before the 2020 election

Less than two months out from the November presidential election, and before daily US COVID infections were being reported in the hundreds of thousands, Biden expressed concern that Trump could politicize vaccine development. 

‘I trust vaccines, I trust scientists, but I don’t trust Donald Trump,” Biden said, “and at this moment, the American people can’t, either,’ he said in Wilmington in September. 

It came after Trump publicly disputed his own CDC director’s Congressional testimony that a vaccine wouldn’t be broadly available until summer 2021.

Trump said Director Robert Redfield ‘misunderstood the question, probably’ and declared a vaccine would be ready by mid-October. 

The first COVID vaccine to gain emergency FDA approval came in early December.

‘I think it’s safe to say he still doesn’t trust Donald Trump, but he does trust scientists, he does trust data experts and he does trust the people leading the CDC, the FDA – which is the gold standard when it comes to approval for the vaccines,’ Psaki said Wednesday. 

‘I’d also note, because this question often comes up, the president has repeatedly given credit to scientists, experts in the prior administration – even as recently as just a few weeks ago – for their role in moving the vaccines forward.’

Psaki said Biden still doesn't trust Trump but he trusts the scientists around him (pictured leaving Trump Tower on August 10)

Psaki said Biden still doesn’t trust Trump but he trusts the scientists around him (pictured leaving Trump Tower on August 10)

She also pointed out that Biden credited the Trump administration for its efforts leading vaccine development numerous times (pictured: Trump departs New York City with seemingly no fanfare)

She also pointed out that Biden credited the Trump administration for its efforts leading vaccine development numerous times (pictured: Trump departs New York City with seemingly no fanfare)

Doocy followed up by asking about Biden’s past warnings to wait until a vaccine received full FDA authorization – which has not yet happened.

‘The FDA works on the timeline of science. At the same time we’ve seen tens of millions of people’s lives saved who have gotten the vaccine – that data is clear across the country,’ Psaki said.

Biden has credited the Trump administration for heading vaccine development numerous times.

In a late July press conference he stressed there was ‘nothing political’ about the vaccines when urging Americans to get inoculated. 

‘The vaccine was developed and authorized by a Republican administration, and it’s been distributed and administered under a Democratic administration,’ the president said.

Biden even praised his predecessor in December before he took office, when he was vaccinated himself

Biden even praised his predecessor in December before he took office, when he was vaccinated himself 

He first praised Trump back in December when Biden got the shot himself, claiming ‘the administration deserves some credit getting this off the ground with Operation Warp Speed.’ 

However Trump has complained even as recently as this month that he isn’t getting credit from the Biden administration.

‘I have to be a big vaccine fan because I’m the one that got it done so quickly. Got it done in less than nine months, it was supposed to take five years. They would’ve never even gotten it done, so I’m a big fan,’ Trump said Saturday night during an interview with Fox News’ Dan Bongino. 

In the same interview he resisted taking a step further and urging his followers to get vaccinated – something even people in his own orbit have begged him to do. 

‘But at the same time I’m a big fan of our freedoms and people have to make that choice for themselves and people have to make that choice for themselves,’ Trump said. 

The conversation surrounding vaccine hesitancy has grown more urgent as many states, primarily GOP-led, have seen a surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations

The conversation surrounding vaccine hesitancy has grown more urgent as many states, primarily GOP-led, have seen a surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations

Meanwhile the pace of vaccinations has slowed down as holdouts who don't trust the Biden administration remain

Meanwhile the pace of vaccinations has slowed down as holdouts who don’t trust the Biden administration remain

Even people in Trump's orbit have urged him to come out stronger in urging his supporters to get vaccinated as cases rise

Even people in Trump’s orbit have urged him to come out stronger in urging his supporters to get vaccinated as cases rise

‘The vaccines turned out to be a tremendous thing. But I also feel strongly that there are some people that do not want to do it and I really believe in somebody’s choice, somebody’s freedom. The mandates are crazy.’   

Immediate concerns over vaccine hesitancy – which is prominent among Trump fans – come after falling US vaccination rates coincided with a surge in new infections to levels not seen since early 2021, before the vaccines were widely available.

Hospitals in GOP-led states like Texas, Arkansas and Alabama are buckling under the latest strain and running out of ICU beds.  

A recent YouGov poll taken over the last three days had 30 percent of Trump voters say they won’t be getting a COVID vaccine.

The same demographic showed a 50-50 split on whether contracting COVID or possible vaccine side effects posed a bigger risk – despite overwhelming data showing COVID infections are worse. 


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