Cal Cunningham, a Democrat running for U.S. Senate in North Carolina, said during a debate on Monday that he’d be “hesitant” to take a coronavirus vaccine that was developed before the end of the year.
“I’m going to ask a lot of questions,” Mr. Cunningham said. “I think that’s incumbent on all of us right now with the way we’ve seen politics intervening in Washington.”
GOP Sen. Thom Tillis said such a statement puts lives at risk.
“We just heard a candidate for the U.S. Senate look into the camera and tell 10 million North Carolinians he would be hesitant to take a vaccine,” the senator said. “I think that that’s irresponsible.”
Mr. Cunningham said after the debate that he wouldn’t hesitate to take a vaccine if public officials signed off and that he’d encourage others to do so, according to the Charlotte Observer.
The North Carolina Senate race is one of the most competitive in the country and could decide which party controls the U.S. Senate come next year.
Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala D. Harris said earlier this month that she wasn’t going to take President Trump’s word on the safety and efficacy of a vaccine.
“It would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he’s talking about,” she told CNN.
The president’s campaign and other Republicans have said such comments from Mr. Cunningham and Ms. Harris feed into counterproductive, dangerous “anti-vaxxer” rhetoric.
Most Americans said they worry that political pressure will force the Food and Drug Administration to approve a coronavirus vaccine before ensuring its safety, according to recent polling.
White House officials have repeatedly said they’re not going to let politics interfere with the vaccine development process.