Chuck Schumer Says Trump's Rebuke of WHO, China Could Lead Other Countries To Withhold Coronavirus Vaccine If Developed Before U.S.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer cautioned that President Donald Trump's rebuke of the World Health Organization and other international cooperatives could leave the United States empty-handed if another country develops the coronavirus vaccine first.

Schumer criticized Trump's Monday remark that the president has been taking hydroxychloroquine to stave off infection from the coronavirus, urging the president to "follow the scientists" and not just say "whatever suits his ego at the moment." The Democratic New York senator and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Tuesday both expressed concern that Trump's Monday letter suspending contributions to the WHO and his ridicule of China's health officials is hampering a collaborative worldwide effort to find a vaccine to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schumer warned against Trump's "reckless" comments, particularly those critical of foreign governments and international science cooperatives like the WHO, noting that it is very possible that another country develops the coronavirus vaccine before the U.S.

"When he pulls out of the cooperation of the nations of the world in creating a vaccine it hurts us," Schumer told Morning Joe Tuesday. "If another country comes up with that vaccine ahead of us, God bless them, but we would want to have the benefits of that. But him not being part of that consortium hurts us. And this is the kind of whimsical, erratic and untruthful behavior that Donald Trump exhibits almost every day when it comes to this crisis."

This is the letter sent to Dr. Tedros of the World Health Organization. It is self-explanatory!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2020

Schumer agreed with Scarborough that he's "hopeful" the president's 18-month timeline to get a vaccine can be moved up, but that rushing such a process could have dire consequences in terms of unforeseen side effects. The two described the international push to find the coronavirus vaccine as unprecedented.

"Every scientist, every pharmaceutical company, every bright mind on the planet is working toward one common goal - how to beat this pandemic," the MSNBC host said. "Boy, it would be a great time to be part of an international alliance instead of trying to go at this alone, I mean that's how we won World War II. That's how we won World War I, that's how we've succeeded as a nation in the American century."

Trump has been roundly criticized for insulting public health experts and questioning scientists within the U.S. government itself. A former government virologist, Rick Bright, has claimed he was removed simply for disagreeing with Trump on the use of hydroxychloroquine. Schumer said scientists working toward a vaccine should be "shielded" from the the president's fickle and ever-changing demands.

Schumer said Congress has allocated a massive sum of money to The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Health and Human Services agency. He again urged Trump to follow science and not tout clinically unproven treatments such as hydroxychloroquine on a whim.

"Follow the scientists, one of my worries is again that Donald Trump -- not listening to scientists, not listening to truth -- will try to rush this in a non-scientific way. Move it as quickly as you can but under the guidance of the scientists. Because if we move too fast and we skip too many steps and then either the vaccine fails or there are side effects, because it's such a small sample, just let the scientists go forward," Schumer said.

"Maybe he has family or friends who own part of the company, it's not unlike this president for someone at Mar-a-Lago or someone on the phone to tell him, 'oh this is a good company,' and he just talks about it. Maybe he did it to divert attention from all the bad things happening and maybe he's just lying. He doesn't tell the truth, he just does whatever suits his ego at that moment."

"And if it helps him he'll do it, but then it hurts the country, and as you said, then it hurts him," Schumer concluded.

chuck schumer vaccine trump coronavirus
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer cautioned that President Donald Trump's rebuke of the World Health Organization and other international cooperatives could leave the United States empty handed if another country finds the coronavirus vaccine first. CHIP SOMODEVILLA / Staff/Getty Images