An announcement by Pfizer Monday that it believed its vaccine candidate is 90% effective
came as a rare moment of encouragement as the pandemic worsens. But it will do little to mitigate the winter surge in the pandemic in the short term given that it will be well into 2021 before the dose is available to all Americans.
Biden issued a statement welcoming this “excellent news” and congratulated the “brilliant women and men” behind the breakthrough, but he warned there must be no let-up in mask wearing and social distancing. Trump, who had hoped that a pre-election announcement on a vaccine could boost his hopes of a second term, said in a tweet that the Pfizer announcement was “SUCH GREAT NEWS!”
The President remains locked in his manufactured reality in which he won the election, despite Biden passing the 270 electoral votes
needed to reach the White House, while flinging false claims that his presidency is being stolen.
But there have been signs of discord in Trump’s inner circle, after CNN reported that Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, and first lady Melania Trump had advised him to accept the loss
while his adult sons, Don Jr. and Eric Trump, are pressing him to continue a fight rooted in false claims of fraud. Kushner’s position grew murkier as the day progressed, with sources close to the President later telling CNN’s Jake Tapper that Kushner was among those pushing Trump to hold rallies.
Trump’s intransigence and unsurprising defiance of democracy threaten to add a constitutional crisis and a disrupted transition of power to the country’s problems as the Covid-19 crisis deepens and the economy languishes.
Many GOP leaders
have declined to congratulate Biden, or even acknowledge his victory, showing Trump’s still huge sway over their party
. And the President’s lying about the result could convince many of the 70 million people who voted for him that the election was indeed corrupt and so complicate Biden’s hopes of uniting the country.
But in a significant intervention Sunday, the only living Republican ex-president, George W. Bush, weighed in
after phoning Biden and said in a statement that the election was “fundamentally fair” and the “outcome is clear.”
The President’s obstinacy is approaching a critical moment, however, with his lawyers under pressure to file convincing legal cases and to produce genuine evidence of electoral fraud — even as Biden’s lead across the electoral map leaves only a minuscule chance of changing the result.
Biden to face ‘apex’ of the pandemic
Trump’s overwhelming concern for his own priorities, not surprising for anyone who watched his presidency, is still remarkable given the rapid worsening of the pandemic.
Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency physician at Brown University, said on CNN’s “Newsroom” on Sunday that “by the time that the Biden-Harris administration takes over, this virus is going to have already run rampant through the communities across the United States.”
Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb warned Sunday that by the time the President-elect takes the oath of office on January 20, the country will be at the “apex” of the Covid-19 crisis and that the current administration — which has said the virus cannot be controlled — must act fast.
“We’re past the election — I think they need to focus on what we can be doing nationally,” Gottlieb said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”