Trump Adviser Says America Is 'Tired of This Politicization of the China Virus'

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on Monday said the American people are growing tired of the politics surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Navarro appeared on Fox News Monday morning to discuss vaccine development efforts for the virus, which he repeatedly called "the China virus." Navarro defended President Donald Trump when he was asked if the initial October target date of Trump's "Operation Warp Speed" vaccine development project was designed to deliver results right before the presidential election.

"I think we're all tired of this politicization of the China virus," Navarro said. According to Navarro, the Trump administration began discussing strategies for fast-tracking vaccine manufacturing in February, about a month before states began shutting down to control the virus' spread.

"We knew what we might be up against," Navarro said. "The fact that we could get this in January 2021 instead of January 2022 is a testament to a president who's business-oriented, who knows how to get things done."

Peter Navarro
Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro speaks to members of the press outside the West Wing of the White House June 18, 2020 in Washington, D.C. During an interview with Fox News on Monday, Navarro referred to COVID-19 as “the China virus” while saying Americans were growing tired of the politics surrounding the pandemic. Alex Wong/Getty

Navarro said the administration's current goal is to secure 3 million vaccine doses by January. More than 100 research teams around the world are working to develop a vaccine to prevent people from contracting COVID-19, but only a handful have started human testing.

Before COVID-19, a vaccine would typically take years to develop due to the time required to create one, test it on humans to ensure its safety and manufacture it for distribution. The federal government's vaccine development project strives to leap over some of the manufacturing delays involved so that, once the race to create a vaccine is complete, health officials can begin administering it to the American people.

Navarro told Fox News Trump was the only person capable of initiating the project and seeing it through. "This is the only president who really could have got this done in what's going to effectively be half or a third of the time that it usually takes," he said. He later added that the administration is "fighting this China virus battle on all vectors of attack."

Trump also uses the phrase "China virus" in discussing COVID-19 as a reference to the country in which the virus was first reported. The president has also referred to it as "the Chinese virus" and "the kung flu" during news conferences and at campaign events. The phrasing has been condemned as racist by organizations like the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), which alleged the president's use of the terms contributed to an uptick in violence targeting Asian Americans.

"When President Trump cites the 'Chinese virus' as the source of the current health and economic crisis, he encourages harassment and violence against Asian Americans across the nation," the AALDEF said in a statement after Trump began using the phrases in March.

Trump's press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, defended the president's use of the terms last month and said Trump did not believe they were offensive.

Sarah Matthews, Trump's deputy press secretary, told Newsweek the president thought use of the terms was "fair."

"The President believes it's a fair thing to label this virus for its place of origin as the Chinese Communist Party tries to ridiculously rewrite history and blame the coronavirus on American soldiers," Matthews said.

Though many believe using the phrase injects a political perspective into COVID-19 discussions, Navarro used it several times while saying the focus should be on finding a vaccine and treating patients rather than on the politics surrounding the pandemic.

"Let's not talk about politics when it comes to saving American lives, because what we're trying to do here is develop that vaccine," Navarro said.

Update 1:28 p.m. ET: This article has been updated to include a response from White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews.