Donald Trump has accused the Biden administration of doing “a terrible disservice to people throughout the world” by allowing a pause in the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, describing it as “done for politics or perhaps it’s the FDA’s love for Pfizer”.
The former president said in a statement that the reputation of the vaccine will now be “permanently challenged” following a pause in the distribution of the jab while regulators investigate rare cases of blood clots in six women who received the single-dose shot.
Joe Biden said on Tuesday that even with a temporary loss of the vaccine, there was a huge supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, enough that “is basically 100 per cent unquestionable, for every single, solitary American”.
It comes as US climate envoy John Kerry is heading to China for talks between the world’s two biggest carbon emitters ahead of an environmental summit of world leaders.
Separately on Wednesday, Mr Biden is expected to formally announce the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by 11 September – ending nearly two decades of war that killed more than 2,200 US troops, wounded 20,000, and cost as much as $1 trillion (£720bn). Estimates suggest more than 100,000 Afghans lost their lives in the conflict.
Jill Biden to undergo medical procedure
Jill Biden, the first lady, will undergo a “common medical procedure” on Wednesday morning.
Joe Biden will accompany her and the couple will then return to the White House and “resume their normal schedule”.
The White House did not immediately detail the nature of the first lady’s procedure.
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China’s special climate envoy to meet with his US counterpart
The Chinese foreign ministry has confirmed that China’s special climate envoy, Xie Zhenhua, will meet with his US counterpart John Kerry in Shanghai today.
Mr Kerry is in the country ahead of Joe Biden’s climate summit of world leaders later this month.
He will also visit Seoul on a visit to Asia extending until Saturday.
The trip marks the highest-level travel to China known so far for officials of the Biden administration.
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US to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by 11 September
Joe Biden will withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by 11 September, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America that were coordinated from that country, officials have said.
Mr Biden will lay out his vision for the way forward in Afghanistan and the timeline for the withdrawal in remarks Wednesday afternoon, the White House said.
The president will then visit Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery to honour the sacrifice of those who died in recent American conflicts.
The decision to withdraw troops by September defies a 1 May deadline for full withdrawal under a peace agreement the Trump administration reached with the Taliban last year, but leaves no room for additional extensions.
A senior administration official on Tuesday called the September date an absolute deadline that would not be affected by security conditions in the country.
Vaccine paused ‘for politics’, claims Trump
US federal health agencies have recommended pausing use of Johnson & Johnson‘s Covid vaccine for at least a few days after six women under the age of 50 developed rare blood clots after receiving the jab, dealing a fresh setback to efforts to tackle the pandemic.
The White House, which got only about 12 hours’ notice that some sort of announcement was coming and did not have any advance warning about the substance of the FDA and CDC’s action, moved swiftly to minimise concerns about its impact.
Aides said they recognised that they had to portray the decision as ensuring the “gold standard” of safety to avoid feeding into vaccine hesitancy.
However Donald Trump sought to paint the move as having a political motive. “Perhaps all this was done for politics or perhaps it’s the FDA’s love for Pfizer,” he said.
Good morning and welcome to our rolling coverage of political developments in Washington and elsewhere in the US.