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Donald Trump chooses denial and recklessness as he’s set to resume campaign rallies

As President Donald Trump stood on a White House balcony Saturday — spewing mistruths about his opponent’s plan for policing and claiming the coronavirus is “disappearing” while hundreds of people watched from below — it was clear that his illness has taught him very little and he will continue to endanger Americans until Election Day.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump removes his face mask to speak from the Blue Room Balcony of the White House to a crowd of supporters, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


© Alex Brandon/AP
President Donald Trump removes his face mask to speak from the Blue Room Balcony of the White House to a crowd of supporters, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

There was a chance for a strategic pivot by the President after he contracted Covid-19 that would have helped him shore up his flagging approval ratings on the handling of the virus. After learning a great deal about coronavirus, as he claimed during his stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he could have chosen a path of responsibility by using his platform to educate the public about the risks of the virus at a time when US cases are surging and doctors fear that the nation is entering a second wave.

But nine days after he announced his coronavirus diagnosis — and hours before his physician said he is no longer considered “a transmission risk to others” but did not say he had tested negative — Trump chose his familiar tactics of denial, risk and ignorance. Two weeks after one super-spreader event in the White House Rose Garden, he held another on the South Lawn with no social distancing. This time, it was before an audience of Black and Latino Americans, groups who have been disproportionately harmed by the pandemic.



a group of people posing for the camera: Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump makes remarks on law and order on the South Lawn of the White House on Saturday, where there was little social distancing. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)


© Samuel Corum/Getty Images
Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump makes remarks on law and order on the South Lawn of the White House on Saturday, where there was little social distancing. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Rather than mitigating risk, Trump is planning at least three campaign rallies next week in Florida, Pennsylvania and Iowa, stating Saturday, “We are starting very, very big with our rallies and with our everything” as he again threw caution to the wind.

In his speech from the White House balcony and during his interviews with right wing outlets like the Rush Limbaugh radio show on Friday, he embraced the only political strategy he knows — playing to his base, rather than attempting to broaden his appeal, as his campaign spirals toward Election Day. He still appears either unwilling or unable to see the huge drag that the public’s lack of confidence in his handling of the pandemic is having on his election prospects.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released this week showed only 37% of Americans approved of Trump’s handling of the pandemic, while 59% disapproved. And the Pew Research Center found that Biden had a 17-point advantage over Trump when registered voters were asked who could better handle the public health impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

View Trump and Biden head-to-head polling

The President continued downplaying Covid-19 on Saturday, referring to it with

Donald Trump touts experimental Regeneron COVID antibody treatment

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In a video released on Twitter, President Trump talked up the benefits of an experimental antibody drug given to treat him for COVID.

USA TODAY

In a video released Wednesday, President Donald Trump talked up the benefits of an experimental drug that he credited for “curing” him of COVID-19. He pledged to make the therapy freely available to all Americans.

Trump received REGN-COV2, made by Regeneron, a New York biotech company, after testing positive last week for the disease. The drug, a pair of monoclonal antibodies, is intended to mimic the natural process of the immune system, providing it with molecules the body normally manufactures to fight off specific diseases.

It is currently being tested in people at various stages of the disease, including patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are symptomatic but not hospitalized, as was Trump.

It also is being considered as a prophylactic treatment to prevent infection in people who have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The drug remains under development and is not yet approved for use in the United States or anywhere else. It appears to be safe but has not yet been proven effective in clinical trials at treating or preventing COVID-19.

Donald Trump’s COVID-19 treatment: It’s similar to the average American hospitalized with coronavirus. Only faster.

Trump was able to get it under a “compassionate use” exemption, which the company said it has granted to fewer than 10 people so far, after requests from their doctors and approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a process that typically takes days to weeks.

Regeneron said compassionate use is “only for rare and exceptional circumstances as we don’t want to raise false hopes among the many patients out there,” according company spokeswoman Alexandra Bowie. 

Otherwise, about 2,000 people have taken REGN-COV2 as part of clinical trials designed to ensure that it is safe and effective. The drug is not yet available outside of of trials and the supply is currently very limited.

“So we’re going to get you the drug. It’s going to be free. We’re going to get it into the hospitals as soon as you can, as soon as we can,” Trump said in the video filmed outside the White House on Wednesday evening.

Regeneron’s Bowie said Wednesday evening the company has submitted a request to the FDA for an emergency use authorization.

“At this time, there are doses available for approximately 50,000 patients, and we expect to have doses available for 300,000 patients in total within the next few months,” she said via email.

The federal government paid $450 million to Regeneron in July to launch a demonstration project to manufacture the drug. It will own doses that result from the project.

REGN-COV2 includes two antibodies. One comes from a person who recovered from COVID-19, the other is from a mouse engineered to have a human immune system. Both target a protein on the surface of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Bowie said Trump

How does Donald Trump’s Covid care compare to the average 74-year-old’s?

From getting a helicopter ride to a military hospital with a specialized suite to receiving experimental drugs made available to fewer than 10 people, Donald Trump’s experience with Covid-19 has been very different from that of your average 74-year-old American with a serious illness.



a man wearing a suit and tie: Photograph: Ken Cedeno/EPA


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Ken Cedeno/EPA



a man wearing a suit and tie: Donald Trump gestures upon returning to the White House on 5 October.


© Photograph: Ken Cedeno/EPA
Donald Trump gestures upon returning to the White House on 5 October.

Related: Trump enjoys top Covid care that could cost ordinary Americans millions

The president ignored these disparities after returning to the hospital on Monday night and in a video from the White House Trump said of Covid-19: “Don’t be afraid of it.”

Here’s a look at how different the experience of catching Covid-19 is for the most powerful 74-year-old in the US compared with most of his fellow citizens:

Diagnosis

First, there is the simple step of realizing someone has the illness.

Trump had access to regular testing, something most, if not all, 74-year-olds do not.

As a white male, Trump was less likely to test positive for the virus. Though testing rates are similar across racial and ethnic groups, Hispanic patients were more than two and a half times more likely to have a positive result and Black and Asian patients were nearly twice as likely to test positive compared with white patients, according to Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

This suggests people of color face increased barriers to testing which delay their ability to get a diagnosis until their condition is more serious.

Care

People who test positive for Covid are usually told to monitor their symptoms at home, no matter what their age.

Trump was able to take a helicopter to a military hospital once he tested positive. And at his home, the White House, the president will be receiving an outstanding level of care from a team of well-equipped, dedicated medical staff.

He will have access to an at-home clinic with exam rooms and hospital equipment, including supplies to perform emergency lifesaving procedures. In an emergency, he can also turn to his fleet of helicopters to get him to the hospital in a few minutes.

The president has access to the best specialists, the best medical care and really any medical countermeasure that he would ever want

Dr Krutika Kuppalli

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Dr Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious disease physician at the Medical University of South Carolina, said: “The president has access to the best specialists, the best medical care and really any medical countermeasure that he would ever want. That is not the medical care most people have in the United States, or in the world.”

If a 74-year-old is admitted to the hospital, they could, like the president, have access to the antiviral drug remdesivir.

But unless they enroll in a clinical trial, they can’t access the experimental antibody treatment Trump is receiving. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, which makes the

Donald Trump Refuses to Answer if He’s Tested Negative for COVID, Wants to Do Rally This Weekend

President Donald Trump said that he is planning on holding an in-person campaign rally in Florida on Saturday night, despite testing positive for COVID-19 last Thursday night and refusing to say whether he has tested negative since then.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump poses for photos at the White House after removing his face mask following his return from Walter Reed Medical Center, where he had been hospitalized due to COVID-19, in Washington, D.C. on October 5, 2020.


© Win McNamee/Getty
President Donald Trump poses for photos at the White House after removing his face mask following his return from Walter Reed Medical Center, where he had been hospitalized due to COVID-19, in Washington, D.C. on October 5, 2020.

Trump made the remarks during a Thursday interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News. Hannity mentioned comments from Dr. Sean Conley, physician to the president, who suggested that Trump may be able to safely return to public events by Saturday, before asking the president if he had recently tested negative for the virus.

Trump tossed aside any concerns that he could still be contagious while claiming that he might be able to safely mingle with the public “sooner” than Conley said. He also ignored the question about being tested before announcing that he hopes to hold more than one in-person campaign rally this upcoming weekend.

“I think I’m going to try doing a rally on Saturday night if we can, if we have enough time to put it together,” Trump said. “We want to do a rally in Florida, probably in Florida on Saturday night. Might come back and do one in Pennsylvania in the following night. And it’s, uh, incredible what’s going on. I feel so good.”

Hannity then asked Trump for a second time if he had been recently tested for COVID-19, with the president again failing to say whether he tested negative and offering a vague answer instead.

Video: Trump has ‘no symptoms,’ returns to downplaying virus (Associated Press)

Trump has ‘no symptoms,’ returns to downplaying virus

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“Well, what we’re doing, probably the test will be tomorrow, the actual test, because there’s no reason to test all the time,” said Trump. “But they found very little infection or virus, if any. I don’t know if they found any, I didn’t go into it greatly with the doctors. We have these great doctors at Walter Reed, and you do rely on them, they’re really fantastic talents.”

‘Get Out There’: Trump Removes Face Mask For Photo Op As He Returns To White House

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Trump returned to the White House from Walter Reed Medical Center on Monday night. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany called Trump that “the most tested man in America” in July, while insisting that the president was tested for the virus “multiple times a day.” However, White House officials have refused to say when Trump last tested negative before his positive result last Thursday night.

During a Fox Business interview hours before his appearance with Hannity, the 74-year-old Trump said that he had rebounded from the virus because he is “a perfect physical specimen and I’m extremely young.” He also said that he would “love to

Why Donald Trump’s Aides Don’t Stand Up to Him

Few would dare. Inside the White House, aides created a kind of alternative reality in which the threat is always receding, the boss always prevailing. In meetings with the president, “no one likes to tell him that some areas are catching fire” because of the virus, another senior administration official told me. “They only say, ‘Oh, we’re turning the corner.’ That goes on there all the time. There’s always a reluctance to talk about bad news. That permeates all the discussions.”

Olivia Troye attended every meeting of the White House’s coronavirus task force until her resignation in August. Signs posted in the West Wing urged people to wear masks, which sat in a basket near one of the entrances. Yet she felt conspicuous peer pressure to forgo them, which is likely how Trump wanted it. He practices a kind of mask avoidance, and his staff followed suit. Wearing a mask protects you and everyone around you, but for Trump it’s visual proof of an outbreak that’s still not contained. Waiting to meet with Vice President Mike Pence, head of the coronavirus task force, Troye would feel the judgmental gaze of barefaced colleagues walking past. “You’re the only one sitting there with a mask,” she said. “It’s very close quarters, and I won’t lie, there were times when I caved” and removed the mask. “You feel self-conscious.” (Administration officials have described her as a “disgruntled employee.” A 43-year-old Republican, she now supports Joe Biden’s candidacy.)

Over and over, the White House downplayed the danger in order to placate Trump. One episode that stands out for me was a news conference this summer in the Rose Garden. At first the chairs were spaced apart, in keeping with social-distancing guidelines. Then White House staff came and scrunched them together, creating an agreeable aesthetic that suggested the virus is in retreat. “Even you, I notice you’re starting to get much closer together,” Trump said, as if it were the journalists’ idea to arrange the seats so that they’re at increased risk of getting sick. “Looks much better, I must say.” (So much for appearances: Today, the White House is the world’s most famous hot spot. Trump is infected, as is the first lady, and some senior aides and the reporters who cover them.)

Behind closed doors, aides have been complicit in much the same sort of denialism. Troye recalls a coronavirus task force meeting in which Trump ignored the agenda and spent nearly an hour complaining about Fox News. The conversation veered back to the virus, but Trump interjected later and demanded that one of his aides call the network to complain. “Who’s going to call?” he said, Troye recalled. “We’ll take care of it, sir,” an aide replied. “He surrounds himself with people who he knows will let him have his way,” Troye said. “That’s the environment he created.”

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Families who endured COVID-19 don’t agree with Donald Trump’s sugar-coated experience

“They had so many patients that it was all hands on deck,” Ackerman explained.

“And I think what truly would have made a difference is our government not downplaying this disease,” she added.

As Trump this week crows about his first-rate medical care — which included a rare experimental antibody treatment available to fewer than 10 people outside medical trials — and declares victory in the pandemic, many Americans hit by virus are struggling to share his optimism.

More than 211,000 people have died in the pandemic, and the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, this week predicted that the death toll could go as high as 300,000 to 400,000 if serious action isn’t taken soon.

Meanwhile, Trump has used his fight against the virus to minimize the tragedy, declaring his coronavirus diagnosis a “blessing in disguise” in a polished video from the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday.

His message leaves families like Ackerman’s trying to square the president’s overly optimistic message with their own reality.

“With his power of being president comes privilege, and that’s the way it should be, despite what my political beliefs or somebody else’s might be,” Ackerman said. “But I think that everybody should get the same kind of attention.”

Recently, Ackerman shared a photo of her 79-year old father on Twitter. Sick and pale in a hospital gown, an oxygen mask covering most of his face, he didn’t match the president’s rosy description of fighting the virus, nor did he look like himself: the full-time immigration attorney who used to personally drive his clients to their hearings in his old Cadillac.

PHOTO: Carol Ackerman's father Stanley J. Teich, who passed away in April at 79, poses with two of his granddaughters.

Carol Ackerman’s father Stanley J. Teich, who passed away in April at 79, poses with two of his granddaughters.

Carol Ackerman’s father Stanley J. Teich, who passed away in April at 79, poses with two of his granddaughters.

“I’m sure that he’d be upset with me if he knew I shared that, but I wanted it to be real,” Ackerman said. “These are real people, these are everyday Americans that got sick through no fault of their own, and died.”

Across the country, families who have lost their loved ones to coronavirus over the past eight months echoed Ackerman’s sentiments, calling the fallout of Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis this past week at once triggering and bewildering.

“Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life,” the president tweeted just before opting to

” target=”_blank”>leave the hospital for the White House, where 20-30 medical professionals took over his

Donald Trump, M.D.: How the President Shapes His Treatment

President Donald Trump didn’t want to go to the hospital in the first place. Trump was admitted only after Chief of Staff Mark Meadows insisted he leave the White House when he spiked a fever Friday morning, was coughing and his blood oxygen level threatened to dip dangerously low, say two current White House officials. All along, Trump’s been a challenging patient, insisting on shaping the course of his care as well as stage managing how his health is projected to the public.

After being shuttled to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center by helicopter on Friday evening, Trump pressed to be sent home all weekend. He pushed his doctors to find a way to administer back at the White House the aggressive therapies he’s been receiving. On Monday, he announced his hospital discharge on Twitter hours before it happened, a tactic he’s often used to ram through a decision his staff were slow-walking. It didn’t take long for Trump to spin his return to the White House into a campaign tagline. “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life,” Trump wrote on Twitter. He later tweeted about the day’s 1.68% stock market gain, a metric he watches closely, and likes to take credit for.

Medical doctors warn Trump could still be a few days away from what can the most dangerous part of the COVID-19 disease cycle, called the cytokine storm, when the body’s immune response rages and can overwhelm its own function. “He’s a high risk individual and he is now entering a potentially unstable part of his clinical course,” says Dr. Howard Koh, a Harvard professor on health policy who was a senior health official in the Obama Administration. “The last thing we want for his health is to be discharged too early and be readmitted.”

During his hospital stay, while peppering doctors with his own ideas for his treatment, Trump has also insisted on projecting an image of working, putting out photos and videos that show him upright and not infirm, despite the severity of his condition that the unusually aggressive cocktail of drugs he is taking would suggest.

On Saturday evening, for example, after he started a steroid treatment used for patients with severe bouts of COVID-19, Trump sat for two photographs taken ten minutes apart of him with what appear to be the same folders and documents on two different tables in two different rooms. Then on Sunday, Trump put his own health and the health of two accompanying Secret Service officers in jeopardy by staging a ride past supporters in his limousine, a move that was “really ill advised,” Koh says.

As Trump moves back into his residence, Trump’s doctors will continue the full-court-press-style therapeutic treatment that, for any other patient who is not the President of the United States, would not be given anywhere but in a hospital. He has one more intravenous drip of the antiviral drug Remdesivir that has been shown to help slow the

‘You’re Gonna Beat It.’ How Donald Trump’s COVID-19 Battle Has Only Fueled Misinformation

President Trump Recuperates Amid Questions About His Health And Campaign
President Trump Recuperates Amid Questions About His Health And Campaign

U.S. President Donald Trump salutes Marine One helicopter pilots on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 5, 2020. Credit – Ken Cedeno—Polaris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Less than 24 hours after requiring supplemental oxygen and being hospitalized for COVID-19, President Donald Trump was already talking about the virus in the past tense.

“I learned a lot about COVID. I learned it by really going to school,” Trump said in a video filmed from his hospital suite on Saturday. “And I get it, and I understand it, and it’s a very interesting thing.”

It had been a rare and ominous sight to watch the President of the United States get airlifted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to be treated for a disease that has killed more than 210,000 Americans and sickened millions more. Laid low by the very virus that he has consistently downplayed, and with more than a dozen White House and Republican officials around him also infected, Trump struck a rare note of uncertainty, tweeting “Going well, I think!” Messages of shock and sympathy came in from around the world.

But if public health officials, and even some of Trump’s own aides, had hoped the experience would chasten him to change his message after months of questioning the severity of the disease, it quickly became clear that they were mistaken. “Don’t be afraid of Covid,” the President, who has received the very best medical care in the U.S., repeatedly told Americans a mere 72 hours later.

By the time he was staging his triumphant return from the hospital on Monday evening — still infected and heavily medicated — the sentiment that the president’s experience proved the virus had been exaggerated had exploded in the conservative media ecosystem. Slickly produced White House videos depicted Trump as a returning war hero, in an aggressive campaign to paper over any seeming vulnerabilities in a president who has always valued the appearance of strength above all else. The implication was that Trump was over the disease, which he isn’t, and that the nation needed to be as well, which it is not.

Trump’s message — not only urging Americans not to be afraid of the deadly illness, but promising they are “gonna beat it” if they get infected — was met with disbelief by many doctors and health experts who have spent the past nine months watching patients fight for their lives and die alone. “What the president is saying is untrue and irresponsible,” said Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease expert at Emory University in Atlanta, tells TIME. “He’s giving the impression: ’I’m strong, I made it, you’re the weak ones that didn’t make it.’ I think it shows a lack of compassion.”

On Tuesday morning, Trump continued to minimize the severity of the virus. “Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu.

Donald Trump’s reckless return met with a dramatically changed White House



a man wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a building


© Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images


President Donald Trump may be eagerly seeking a return to normal after three nights in the hospital. But the White House he arrived home to Monday with dramatic and reckless flourish has changed drastically since he was airlifted off the South Lawn at the end of last week.

Instead of a bustling hive of pre-election activity, the West Wing has become a breeding ground for viral contagion. At least 11 of the President’s aides or allies have either contracted the virus or — in the case of his daughter Ivanka — are working from home. Entire suites of offices sit vacant as Trump’s aides work to isolate him in the residence and out of the West Wing.

A new aura of mistrust was settling in as several aides raised questions about whether they had been recklessly put in harm’s way over the past week. Accusations of mismanagement — directed mainly at White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — have flown amid one of the gravest presidential crises in a generation. An absence of robust contact tracing efforts caused ripples of concern as testing and mask-wearing norms were being second-guessed.

None of that anxiety was allayed when Trump arrived back to the White House Monday. His first act after striding up the South Portico steps was to rip off his mask and stuff it into his pocket — even though he remains infected with coronavirus and could potentially infect those nearby. He was then seen going back out onto the balcony and re-entering so a camera crew could shoot his entrance.

“We’re going back. We’re going back to work. We’re gonna be out front,” Trump said in a video-taped message upon his return. “As your leader I had to do that. I knew there’s danger to it, but I had to do it.”

Though four hours earlier his doctors conceded he was not yet “out of the woods” in his fight against Covid-19, Trump framed the disease as in the past: “Now I’m better and maybe I’m immune? I don’t know. But don’t let it dominate your lives.”

In the White House residence where he was speaking without a mask, an already slimmed-down staff has been reduced even further after the President and first lady both came down with coronavirus. At least one staffer — who is military personnel directly assigned to support the President in the Oval Office and residence — tested positive over the weekend, according to a person familiar with the matter.

As Trump returned home, a supply of medical gowns, goggles and respirator masks had been secured for use by his health and security teams — and potentially residence staffers — should they need to come into close proximity to the President.

In the hours after he arrived, a White House employee was seen sanitizing the press briefing room wearing a full white suit with a hood, gloves and protective eyewear.

And a temporary suite of offices had been arranged on

Donald Trump says COVID-19 vaccines coming ‘momentarily.’ They’re not.

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Shortly after returning to the White House, President Trump thanked the staff of Walter Reed hospital where he was treated for COVID-19.

USA TODAY

President Donald Trump, back at the White House days after being diagnosed with COVID-19, said vaccines in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic are coming “momentarily.” 

Doctors and scientists have repeatedly refuted that claim. 

Trump, speaking in a video posted to Twitter after leaving the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday, said he felt “better than 20 years ago” after praising the medicines and equipment involved in his treatment. Earlier in the day, he said people shouldn’t be afraid of COVID-19, and said, “Maybe I’m immune, I don’t know,” during Monday night’s video. 

In the video, Trump also said, “The vaccines are coming momentarily.” 

For a COVID-19 vaccine to become available in the United States, it would first have to gather enough data from Phase 3 clinical trials to be able to prove to the Food and Drug Administration that it was safe, effective and provided immunity to the virus.

Data, data and more data: Will make a coronavirus vaccine safe, USA TODAY’s vaccine panel says

At that point, the FDA would ask its external review committee, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, if it concurred. Only then could the agency issue either an Emergency Use Authorization or continue through the full licensing process to issue a license for the vaccine. 

Dr. Paul Pottinger, an infectious disease professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said he’s hopeful there will be good news soon on current ongoing trials, but it’s his understanding a “robust supply” of a safe vaccine available for public use will not be available for “many, many months.” 

“Remember, there’s always that delay between when we know something is safe and effective and when it is then available to be generally deployed,” he said. “But, there will not be a safe, generally effective, generally deployable vaccine any moment, I’m very confident of that.” 

On Sept. 16, CDC Director Robert Redfield said that even once a vaccine was approved, only limited amounts would initially be available. The general American public, he anticipated, will not be able to get it and “get back to our regular life” until next summer or fall. Trump later said Redfield misspoke. 

Where will your family be? Expert panel recommends who should be first in line for COVID-19 vaccine.

Four candidate vaccines are being tested in Phase 3 trials. Each involves at least 30,000 people each, half of whom will get the active vaccine and half a placebo. 

Dr. Stephen Hahn, head of the FDA, has repeatedly said he would not approve a vaccine until it has been shown to be safe and effective. He has also said there might be an intermediate endpoint — short of the completion of a 30,000-person trial — that could meet his standards for a so-called emergency use authorization.

Early approval can be issued only during a federal