Trump news: US coronavirus cases pass 11,000 as president promotes vaccine that FDA says isn’t ready

Alex Woodward, Danielle Zoellner
Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he holds a meeting with nurses on the Covid-19 response at the White House in Washington, DC, on 18 March 2020: Kevin Dietsch/EPA

Donald Trump has boasted of a vaccine to treat the coronavirus as the number of confirmed cases in the US reaches 11,000, saying health officials will "fast-track" treatments. But the Federal Drug Administration said the vaccine was still an estimated "12 months" out as the agency assures that that its product is both "safe and effective".

In New York alone, the number of Covid-19 cases doubled overnight to almost 2,000, prompting mayor Bill de Blasio to call on the president to mobilise the US military.

He told CNN: “I want their medical teams, which are first rate, I want their logistical support, I want their ability to get stuff from factories all over the country where they’re needed most."

As the pandemic spreads, the US markets are taking a significant hit, with the Dow Jones dropping below 20,000 points and unemployment rates escalating.

The president was “too bad” the contagion has spread “because we never had an economy as good as the economy we had ... but we’ll be back”.

Meanwhile, the US State Department has warned against all travel outside the country as the president prodded at reporters at his White House coronavirus briefing and its new social-distancing-friendly seating arrangement, once again prompting critics to demand that health officials deliver those crucial updates.

He said: "We should probably get rid of about, another 75-80 per cent of you .... I'll have just two or three that I like in this room."

The president pointed to one reporter and told them: "You should leave immediately."

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