First Thing: Is the US holding up the search for a coronavirus vaccine? – USA DAILY NEWS

First Thing: Is the US holding up the search for a coronavirus vaccine?

Good morning,

Scientists are confident that, with a worldwide push, at least one Covid-19 vaccine can be developed and distributed in record time. And, as with the recent multinational efforts to combat Ebola, Zika and HIV, US expertise is likely to play an essential role. So why did Donald Trump suggest last week that the disease is “gonna go away without a vaccine”?

Tom McCarthy reports on how the US administration’s apparent indifference to global efforts could slow the discovery of a vaccine – and hinder Americans’ access to one when it eventually arrives. Trump’s incompetent handling of the pandemic is not just endangering US lives, argues Michael H Fuchs, America’s abdication of global leadership is crippling the global response:


Trump does not seem to recognize that the only effective solution to the pandemic is to counter it everywhere. Without a universally administered vaccine, the virus could continue to cycle through country after country. And as desperate as the situation is in the US, other countries could fare far worse.

Trump flounced out of his first press briefing in weeks


‘You should ask China’: Trump terminates press conference after clash with reporters – video

Trump brought his first press conference since 27 April to an abrupt end on Monday, after a fresh clash with reporters. At the Rose Garden briefing, the president was flanked by signs that proclaimed “America leads the world in testing”. But when CBS News correspondent Weijia Jiang asked why he had framed the issue as “a global competition” – on a day when US Covid-19 deaths passed 80,000 – Trump replied: “Don’t ask me. Ask China that question.”

The president seemed more keen to focus on his never-ending feud with his predecessor, Barack Obama, who has reportedly expressed disquiet over the Department of Justice dropping its case against Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser. Trump is exceedingly worked up over something he calls “Obamagate” – but can’t seem to come up with any details of Obama’s alleged crimes.

New York has reached ‘the other side of the mountain’

With parts of New York state preparing to reopen from Friday, and infections back down to the same rate as in mid-March, the governor Andrew Cuomo has said he believes the state is now “on the other side of the mountain” in its struggle against the pandemic. But a CDC analysis has found that the true coronavirus death toll in New York City may be significantly higher than the official count.

Elsewhere in the US …

  • … Elon Musk has ordered production to resume at a Tesla factory in northern California, in defiance of the region’s lockdown orders.

  • … Volunteers in Florida are scrambling to find new homes for greyhounds after the pandemic shut down the state’s dog racing tracks.

  • … The family of the first man to die of Covid-19 in Ice custody have spoken to Sam Levin. Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia, who had lived in the US for 40 years, succumbed to the disease last week while in detention in San Diego.

The WHO wants ‘extreme vigilance’ as countries reopen

The emergencies chief of the World Health Organization, Michael Ryan, has said the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions in countries that appeared to have slowed their Covid-19 infection rates was a sign of “hope”, but warned that “extreme vigilance” will be required as parts of the world reopen.

In other news …

  • The leading global cause of death is malnutrition. One in nine people is going hungry, or 820 million people worldwide, according to the Global Nutrition Report 2020. The report was written before the pandemic, and its authors say the crisis is likely to set back efforts to alleviate world hunger.

  • The US supreme court is tackling Trump’s tax returns. The justices will hear arguments on Tuesday as to whether the president’s accountants should have to disclose details of his financial affairs, in cases originating in New York state and with Democrats in Congress.

  • Interpol issued a red notice for “fugitive” Anne Sacoolas, an American woman charged in the UK with causing the death by dangerous driving of a 19-year-old motorcyclist, Harry Dunn. Sacoolas fled the UK, claiming diplomatic immunity. The red notice means she risks arrest if she sets foot outside the US.

Great reads

Emo rapper Yung Lean bares his soul

When he first emerged from his native Sweden, 23-year-old Jonatan Leandoer Håstad – aka Yung Lean – was considered little more than a novelty act. Nowadays, though, he’s revered as an emo-rap pioneer. “I was definitely ahead of my time,” he tells Rachel Aroesti.

Rutger Bregman’s tribute to our better nature

The Dutch historian Rutger Bregman’s new book is a history of human nature, which argues that our pessimistic opinion of ourselves is misplaced. It’s reassuring and thought-provoking, says Andrew Anthony, even if its view of humanity is incomplete.

The social anxiety of choosing a ‘pandemic pod’

Around the world, people are partnering up with other households to create pandemic “pods” who mix only with each other. It sounds like a lovely idea, writes Poppy Noor, but having only just moved to New York, would it leave her looking a bit too desperate for new friends?

Opinion: Trump needs a good team talk

During his basketball career, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar learned the power of a passionate pep talk. If Trump wants the US to come together as a team to fight the pandemic, he needs to deliver one.


It is the speech Trump should deliver, not because he wants to be re-elected, but because it would address the country’s major concerns, end the political squabbling, provide a reasonable plan going forward, and give Americans confidence that their government is working to protect their health and economic concerns. It needs to be the speech of a statesman not a, well, Trump.

Last Thing: Bring the birds and bees to your back yard

If you’re fortunate enough to have an outside space during the lockdown, however small, now’s your chance to boost its biodiversity. Amy Fleming suggests a few tricks for creating an English-style cottage garden.

Sign up

Sign up for the US morning briefing

First Thing is delivered to thousands of inboxes every weekday. If you’re not already signed up, subscribe now.