On a coronavirus vaccine, Trump hints at yet another conspiracy

Trump's claims about a coronavirus vaccine have gotten a little weird lately. His claims about a conspiracy to delay a vaccine was even worse.
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A lab technician sorts blood samples for COVID-19 vaccination study at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Fla., on Aug. 13, 2020.Chandan Khanna / AFP via Getty Images

Donald Trump's claims about a coronavirus vaccine have gotten a little weird lately. Last week, for example, the president insisted that a vaccine could be ready in as little as three weeks, which was difficult to take seriously.

Around the same time, the Republican said his administration could distribute 100 million vaccine doses before the end of the year, which wildly contradicted his administration's estimates. Trump went on to boast that there would be enough doses to vaccinate every American by April, which was also badly at odds with the estimates from experts on his own team.

But last night, the president's thinking on vaccines took an even more unsettling turn when he suggested nefarious opponents are deliberately delaying the development of a vaccine as part of an election-season scheme. The Daily Beast noted:

Speaking to supporters during a campaign rally in Jacksonville, Florida, he said, "We will have a vaccine so soon, you won't even believe it, although they are trying to do a little bit of a political hit. 'Let's delay the vaccine just a little bit.' Did you notice that?"

It's often difficult to unwrap the president's conspiracy theories, but if I had to guess, I'd say he was probably referring to the FDA's new standards for emergency authorization of a coronavirus vaccine. In the interest of public safety and public confidence, the FDA made clear that its standards would be stringent.

A day later, Trump said he might reject the FDA's tougher vaccine guidelines, and then last night, the Republican pointed to an unspecified "they" trying to execute "a little bit of a political hit" against him.

Because in the president's mind, the FDA applying high standards to a vaccine must be part of an election scheme.

As bizarre as this was to hear, there can be no doubt that Trump sees practically every aspect of the coronavirus pandemic through a conspiratorial lens. Indeed, this comes a month after he tweeted about a possible "deep state" conspiracy at the FDA trying to hurt his re-election campaign.

Trump also thinks China conspired against him. And governors have conspired against him. And congressional Democrats have conspired against him. As the president sees it, even the COVID-19 death toll may be part of a conspiracy.

Reality tells a different story, but the Conspiracy Theorist in Chief can't seem to shake his worldview.