News World US Donald Trump hints at election loss, predicts COVID vaccine ready in April
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Donald Trump hints at election loss, predicts COVID vaccine ready in April

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Donald Trump has offered his first public indication that he may no longer be the President of the United States from inauguration day on January 20.

Mr Trump appeared in the White House Rose Garden for his first press conference in over a week on Saturday (AEDT).

It was Mr Trump’s first briefing since US media outlets declared Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential election.

Mr Trump insisted his administration would not pursue a lockdown of the economy. In doing so, he hinted at the possibility of a new administration taking the reins.

“Whatever happens in the future, who knows which administration it will be. I guess time will tell. I can tell you this administration will not go to a lockdown.”

A senior adviser to Mr Biden said the next administration also had no plans for a nationwide lockdown.

Dr Vivek Murthy, who leads Biden’s coronavirus advisory board, told ABC’s Good Morning America “the way we should be thinking about this is more like a series of restrictions that we dial up or down depending on how a bad spread is taking place in a specific region”.

Their remarks came as Oregon ordered a two-week “freeze” banning businesses being open to the public and New Mexico imposed a two-week stay-at-home order.

Oregon also joined an advisory with California and Washington urging the public to indefinitely avoid out-of-state travel unless necessary.

Elsewhere, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the governors of six northeastern states had scheduled an emergency weekend meeting to co-ordinate their responses to the surge in infections.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert serving on the Trump’s coronavirus task force, said on Thursday he had had no contact with Biden’s transition team but his advice for them would be the same as it was for Trump: social distancing, avoiding crowds, wearing masks, washing hands.

Surges in COVID-19 infections are alarming officials across the United States, with more than 100,000 new cases detected each day. The country has reported a seven-day rolling average of more than 1000 deaths in the past six consecutive days, a trend last seen in August.

The number of cases reported daily more than doubled in 13 states during the past two weeks, most of them in the midwest, led by Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois, according to a Reuters tally.

Mr Trump said he expects a coronavirus vaccine to be available for the entire population as soon as April, amid a crush of new infections of the deadly disease that has pushed daily case counts to record highs.

Mr Trump also said he expected an emergency use authorisation for Pzifer’s vaccine “extremely soon”.

Pfizer has said it expects to report required safety data next week and can then apply for an emergency use authorisation.

Mr Trump’s remarks in the Rose Garden of the White House came after he received an update on Operation Warp Speed, an administration effort to turbocharge development of a vaccine.

Criticism of the administration’s response to the virus, which has killed more than 235,000 Americans, became a rallying cry for Democrats ahead of November 3 elections.

US networks have proclaimed Mr Biden the winner of the presidential vote but Mr Trump, refusing to concede, has launched a series of legal challenges based on unsubstantiated claims of fraud.

-with agencies