Psaki refuses to give Trump credit for vaccine rollout, says it was an 'incredible effort by science and by medical experts'

  • Psaki again refused to give Trump credit for the COVID-19 vaccine development and rollout.
  • It “was Herculean incredible effort by science and by medical experts,” Psaki said Friday.
  • Trump has expressed frustration at the lack of praise he’s received on the vaccine development.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has repeatedly refused to give credit to former President Donald Trump for the coronavirus vaccine development and vaccine rollout under his administration.

Psaki on Friday pushed back on a reporter who asked whether Trump deserves any acknowledgement for his vaccine efforts. 

She said the progress on vaccines was a “Herculean incredible effort by science and by medical experts.” 

“And certainly, we’ve applauded that in the past and we’re happy to applaud that again,” she added.

Psaki reiterated that when President Joe Biden took office, there were not enough vaccines, vaccinators, or distribution locations for Americans to get the shot. She also said that leadership involves “mask-wearing” and “acknowledging there’s a pandemic,” an apparent dig at Trump, who refused to wear masks in public for most of the crisis and regularly downplayed the severity of the outbreak. 

Biden made a similar jab at Trump during his first primetime speech on on Thursday night — the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 outbreak officially being declared a pandemic.

“We were hit with a virus that was met with silence and spread unchecked, denials for days, weeks, then months,” Biden said. “That led to more deaths, more infections and more loneliness.” 

On Friday, a reporter pressed Psaki on Biden’s speech, asking: “Why not just say, with credit to the previous administration and the former president for putting us in this position, we are glad that we have been able to move it forward?”

Psaki dismissed the question as an “excellent recommendation as a speechwriter” and said the purpose of Biden’s speech was to provide the American people with an “update on what his administration has been doing.”

“Americans are looking for facts, they’re looking for details, they’re looking for specifics,” Psaki said. “And I don’t think they’re worried too much about applause from six months ago when the president has already delivered that publicly.”

The Food and Drug Administration approved two vaccine candidates by pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Pfizer in December under the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, a federal program designed to speed up vaccine development.   

Trump has expressed frustration at the lack of praise he’s received on the vaccine development.

“I hope everyone remembers when they’re getting the COVID-19 (often referred to as the China Virus) Vaccine, that if I wasn’t President, you wouldn’t be getting that beautiful ‘shot’ for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all,” Trump said in a statement earlier this week. “I hope everyone remembers!” 

During his speech, Biden commended his administration for putting together the collaboration of two pharmaceutical companies, Johnson and Johnson and Merck, to speed up vaccine manufacturing. 

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the deal between the competitors was initiated by Trump officials, according to four Trump administration officials with knowledge of the matter. 

“Biden can take credit for finishing the deal, that’s for sure,” Paul Mango, a former Health and Human Services deputy chief of staff, told The Post. “But it wasn’t an original idea he had.”

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