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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden meets with veterans and union leaders in the backyard of a supporter. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris both warned Americans this holiday weekend to be skeptical of anything Trump says about a potential coronavirus vaccine, saying they’ll take their cues from scientists and not the president.

Why it matters: The Democratic ticket is trying to strike the right balance — they want to warn that Trump may be making premature claims for political gain, but they don’t want t0 dissuade Americans from actually using a vaccine once one is safe and available.

  • At an AFL-CIO virtual town hall, Biden said he would take a vaccine only if Trump had been “completely transparent and other experts in the country could look at it.”

Driving the news: Trump is attacking Biden and Harris for expressing concern that the president might accelerate the introduction of a vaccine for political reason.

  • On Monday, Trump called on his opponents  to “immediately apologize for the reckless anti-vaccine rhetoric that they’re talking right now.”

Between the lines. Trump continues to hint that there could be a vaccine before the November election. At a press conference in New Jersey he teased that there could be a “very big surprise coming up.”

  • Both Biden and Harris want to project optimism about the prospects for a vaccine, without creating an echo chamber for Trump's enthusiasm.
  • “If I could get a vaccine tomorrow I’d do it,” Biden said earlier today . “If it cost me the election I’d do it. We need a vaccine and we need it now.”
  • On Sunday, Harris told CNN: “I would not trust Donald Trump and it would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he’s talking about.”  

Go deeper

Dec 15, 2020 - Health

America's rural outbreaks near their vaccine

A UPS driver delivers 2,900 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in Galveston, Texas. Photo: Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images

America's rural and underserved areas are one step closer to an easily accessible vaccine, thanks to the FDA approaching emergency authorization for the Moderna vaccine.

Why it matters: "Moderna is the one that I would take out to rural areas and community health centers and private doctors' offices," Harvard public health professor Barry Bloom told the N.Y. Times.

Updated 16 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers — U.S. on the lookout for Omicron casesFDA panel backs Merck's antiviral COVID pill.
  2. Politics: Biden says fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns" — Two federal judges temporarily block Biden vaccine mandates.
  3. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Pentagon denies Oklahoma National Guard request for exemption from vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Omicron variant detected in more countriesWHO advises people 60 or older to postpone travel due to Omicron — COVID-19 "radically altered mobility" globally, UN says.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Dec 16, 2020 - Health

California orders 5,000 body bags amid "most intense" coronavirus surge

California Gov. Gavin Newsom watches as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center on Dec. 14. Photo: Jae C. Hong-Pool via Getty

California has ordered 5,000 body bags as the state undergoes its "most intense" COVID-19 surge to date, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday.

Why it matters: California saw 32,326 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and has reached a 14-day average positivity rate of 10.7%, its highest since the pandemic began.