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Trump’s election standoff ’embarrassment,’ may raise death toll: Biden

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New York, Nov 17 (IANS) As the standoff continues between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden over the election results, the Democrat it was an international “embarrassment” and the administration’s failure to cooperate with the transition team could lead to more people dying from the Covid-19 pandemic.

It “more embarrassing for the country than debilitating for my ability to get started” on his administration, Biden said on Monday about Trump’s refusal to admit defeat even though he had appeared to do so but then changed course.

Biden said that he was in contact with international leaders, from the pope to prime ministers who were calling with “some degree of enthusiasm,” and with business and trade union leaders to get ready for taking over on January 20.

He was speaking to reporters in Wilmington after he and his running mate Kamala Harris met with business chiefs, including CEOs Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Sonia Syngal of Gap, and labour leaders on his economic plan.

Appealing to the Republicans, he said, “I will work with you. I understand a lot of your reluctance because of how the President operates.”

Trump had tweeted a backhanded admission of defeat on Sunday morning, “He won because the Election was Rigged.”

But hours later he made U-turn tweeting, “RIGGED ELECTION. WE WILL WIN!”

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Shortly before midnight, he made a more definitive tweet, “I WON.”

Biden said that this showed that “there was no change in his modus operandi.”

He ridiculed Trump’s response to the crisis: “The idea the President is still playing golf and not doing anything about it is beyond my comprehension.”

Biden warned that as the pandemic rages if Trump doesn’t cooperate with the transition on the Covid-19 strategy and vaccine plans, “More people may die.”

Pharmaceutical company Moderna announced on Monday that its vaccine had a 94.5 per cent efficacy and Pfizer said last week that its vaccine was more than 90 per cent effective.

Moderna received financing from Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” to speed up vaccine development and Pfizer made a deal with it to supply vaccines.

Biden said, “They say they have this ‘Warp Speed Programme'” that worked to develop vaccines and prepare for the distribution, but “if we have to wait until January 20 to start that planning, it puts us behind for a month and a half.”

While some vaccine is expected to be ready for distribution next month, the bulk of the distribution would have to be done by a Biden administration.

Biden said, “We’re going into a very dark winter. Things are going to get much tougher before they get easier.”

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“There’s so much we can do. The only way we do any of this is if we work together. I know we can do this,” he said.

While the media has declared Biden the winner with 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232, the counting of votes is still continuing in several states and the results have not been officially announced.

The federal agency that has to by law give the Biden transition team facilities and access to information has said that since there hasn’t been an official announcement or concession of defeat by Trump it will not oblige the Democrat.

Biden said that since Harris was a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, at least she was kept in the loop with intelligence briefings, which he cannot get.

Trump’s campaign and his supporters have filed several cases alleging irregularities or fraud in the election.

Four suits by supporters were withdrawn on Monday but at least four others by Trump or his campaign are pending and Trump tweeted on Sunday that his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, will marshal them indicating that he is not yet ready to concede defeat.

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