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Trump concedes Covid-19 pandemic in US is 'likely to get worse before it gets better’

Politicians and White House officials have opened negotiations on a trillion-dollar-or-more ‘phase four’ rescue package.

US President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House
US President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House
Image: Evan Vucci via PA Images

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump has warned that the coronavirus crisis in the United States is likely to “get worse before it gets better”. 

Trump made his comments during a briefing at the White House as the next stage of the federal government’s response to the pandemic was being crafted on Capitol Hill.

Politicians and White House officials were opening negotiations on a trillion-dollar-or-more “phase four” rescue package.

“It will probably unfortunately get worse before it gets better,” President Trump said from the White House, but he also touted a reduction in deaths and progress on vaccines and treatments for Covid-19, which Trump referred to repeatedly as a the “China virus”.

He also continued his belated encouragement of Americans to wear masks when social distancing is not possible, saying: “Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact.”

With three months to election day, President Trump is hoping that the podium spotlight will give him an edge against Democratic rival Joe Biden.

He appeared at the White House solo, without the medical experts or government supply experts he previously relied on to explain his response to the public health emergency.

“The vaccines are coming, and they’re coming a lot sooner than anybody thought possible,” President Trump promised.

As early as next week, the first possible US vaccine is set to begin final-stage testing in a study of 30,000 people to see if it really is safe and effective.

A few other vaccines have begun smaller late-stage studies in other countries, and in the US a series of huge studies are planned to start each month through fall in hopes of, eventually, having several vaccines to use.

Already, people can start signing up to volunteer for the different studies.

Health authorities warn there is no guarantee – it is not unusual for vaccines to fail during this critical testing step.

But vaccine makers and health officials are hopeful that at least one vaccine could prove to work by year’s end.

Companies already are taking the unusual step of brewing hundreds of millions of doses so that mass vaccinations could begin if the Food and Drug Administration signs off.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said he was glad President Trump has begun to promote mask-wearing and expressed optimism the president would reinforce that message.

“If we, during those conferences, come out and have consistent, clear, non-contradictory messages, I believe it will be very helpful in getting people on the track of knowing the direction that we need to go to get this pandemic under control,” he said.

In addition to discussing medical developments, he also was expected to focus on his advocacy for schools to reopen for in-person education, following his threat to try to withhold federal funds from those that stick to remote education.

‘I haven’t been following it’

Meanwhile, Trump also wished British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell “well” as she awaits trial over charges relating to the trafficking of children for sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Trump was asked at a White House press conference whether Maxwell will “turn in powerful people” associated to Epstein, including the Duke of York.

“I don’t know, I haven’t really been following it too much,” he answered.

“I just wish her well frankly. I have met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach and I guess they lived in Palm Beach. But I wish her well, whatever it is.”

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He added: “I don’t know the situation with Prince Andrew. I just don’t know. I am not aware of it.”

The ex-girlfriend of Epstein appeared in a New York court via video link last week, when she was told by a judge that she will remain in custody.

Maxwell, who pleaded not guilty, will go on trial in July 2021.

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