Fact Check: Trump and Biden’s Second and Final Presidential Debate

President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden faced off for the last time before the Nov. 3 election. They started Thursday’s debate with comments on the coronavirus pandemic and the U.S. response. Bloomberg News is checking the facts behind their claims:

Trump claims U.S. response to the virus was effective

By most measures, the U.S. pandemic response has been chaotic and the results catastrophic. The U.S. has had more than 222,000 deaths attributed to Covid-19, and more than 8.3 million cases. That’s more cases than any other nation, including India, which has a population four times that of the U.S. It is true that the U.S. hasn’t had the most deaths per capita, according to Johns Hopkins University. It’s death rate is behind Peru, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Spain, Chile, Ecuador and Mexico.

Still, more than perhaps any other developed nation, the U.S. coronavirus response has been marked by confusion that has kept the country’s numbers surging while many other nations hit by the virus early-on have seen infection rates decline. Missteps in handling the virus include advising the public initially not to wear masks, advising those who don’t exhibit symptoms to not get tested and continued shortages of supplies and testing backlogs. Seven months into the pandemic, the U.S. has still not streamlined its testing efforts as have countries praised for their virus response including South Korea and Germany.

Trump says a vaccine will be ready by year’s end

Vaccines typically take many years to develop, in part because they must be proven to be extremely safe because they’re given to healthy people. But around the world, governments, pharmaceutical companies and researchers have sought to expedite that process for the coronavirus. There are currently more than 190 experimental coronavirus vaccines in development, according to the World Health Organization, 42 of which have entered human studies.

62,735 in U.S.Most new cases today

+1% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-0.​8746 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

4.​7% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), Sept.


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Experimental shots from Pfizer Inc. in partnership with BioNTech SE, the University of Oxford with AstraZeneca Plc, and Moderna Inc. are among the vanguard. Pfizer is looking to file an application by late November. Moderna expects interim results in November and, if positive, an emergency use authorization in December.

Unfortunately, both Astrazeneca and Johnson & Johnson had to pause their vaccine trials due to adverse health effects.

Importantly, once a vaccine is approved it’s a challenge to get it widely distributed. Estimates from top health officials have ranged from the end of March to the end of 2021 before most Americans would have access to it. Trump has said that an assertion by Robert Redfield, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that disbursement of the vaccine would come some time in late spring or summer of next year was “a mistake.”

Redfield isn’t the only top U.S. health official offering a less ambitious forecasts for getting a Covid-19 vaccine out to the public. Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services, said it would probably be widely available by the end of March. And Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, forecast a timeline similar to Redfield’s in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

— With assistance by Magan Crane

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