Kamala Harris Doesn't Trust Trump's Word on Vaccines. She's Not Alone

Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris questioned Donald Trump's word on a potential COVID-19 vaccine in Wednesday's debate, and polling suggests she is not alone in distrusting the president on this point.

Harris was asked whether she would take a vaccine if one were approved by the Trump administration, during her head-to-head with Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday.

"If the public health professionals, if Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us we should take it, I'll be the first in line to take it, absolutely," she said. "But if Donald Trump tells us we should take it, I'm not taking it."

Sen. Harris says she will take Covid-19 vaccine if supported by public health officials and doctors, but not if solely urged by President Trump. #vpdebate pic.twitter.com/tnwJIxWQ4M

— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 8, 2020

Pence criticized Harris' comments and told her: "The fact that you continue to undermine public confidence in a vaccine, if the vaccine emerges during the Trump administration, I think is unconscionable."

VP Pence to Sen. Harris: "I just ask you, stop playing politics with people's lives. The reality is that we will have a vaccine, we believe, before the end of this year and it will have the capacity to save countless American lives." https://t.co/rJxLDwoEis #VPDebate pic.twitter.com/q5ifCZuhJC

— ABC News (@ABC) October 8, 2020

While the Republican pushed back against Harris' remarks, polling suggests her view reflects public opinion.

In an Axios/Ipsos survey, conducted among 1,075 U.S. adults from September 24 to 27, people were asked how likely they would be to take a first generation COVID-19 vaccine in a range of scenarios.

In a situation in which their doctor said a vaccine was safe, 62 percent said they were likely to take it. Then asked how they would react if Trump said it was safe, 19 percent said they would be likely to take it.

In an ABC News/Ipsos poll, conducted among 528 adults September 18 to 19, most of those asked said they did not trust Trump to confirm the safety and effectiveness of a potential coronavirus vaccine.

Asked how much confidence they had that he could do so, 53 percent said none at all.

An NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll found that a majority of those asked if they trust what Trump has said about a vaccine for the coronavirus, said they did not.

Of 36,551 respondents, asked online from September 7 to 13, 52 percent said they did not trust what Trump had said.

Meanwhile, separate polling has reported a fall in the proportion of people who have said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Trump has long spoken of his push for a vaccine to be ready, and Pence suggested during Wednesday's debate that one will be ready in "record time" and before the end of the year.

The president previously said the military could be used to help deliver 200,000 doses of a vaccine per day.

Several Democratic lawmakers have questioned Trump's word alone being sufficient to declare the vaccine safe or effective.

Newsweek has contacted the White House and Harris for comment.

Kamala Harris vice president debate
Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) participates in the vice presidential debate against U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, on October 7, 2020. During the debate, Harris suggested she would not trust President Donald Trump's word in regards to a vaccine. Alex Wong/Getty