The idea that there’s going to be a vaccine and everything’s gonna be fine tomorrow is not reasonable, Biden told a town hall

Most health experts, including the CDC chief have said a shot will not be widely available until mid-2021

US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Thursday bluntly contradicted President Donald Trump’s suggestion that a

, warning Americans they cannot trust the president’s word.

“The idea that there’s going to be a vaccine and everything’s gonna be fine tomorrow – it’s just not rational, not reasonable,” Biden said during a CNN town hall in Moosic, Pennsylvania.

again said on Wednesday that a vaccine for Covid-19 could be ready for distribution ahead of the November 3 election.

Most health experts, including Robert Redfield, the director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, have said a vaccine will not be widely available until mid-2021.

Trump has accused his rival of spreading “anti-vaccine rhetoric,” while Biden has emphasised that he will listen to scientists, not the president, regarding a vaccine’s safety.

The broadcast was the first town hall-style event that Biden has done since accepting the

last month, giving viewers a rare chance to see him answer live questions from people whose votes he hopes to win in November.

The cable network described the event as a “drive-in town hall”: participants remained at their parked cars outside a minor-league baseball stadium to ensure they stayed safely distanced from one another.

Biden spent much of the evening attacking Trump for his handling of the pandemic, including the president’s own admission to the journalist Bob Woodward that he deliberately

“He knew it – he knew it and did nothing,” Biden said. “It’s close to criminal.”

Trump has subsequently said he was trying to avoid unnecessary panic.

Biden said he did not have the power to enforce a national mask mandate, walking back remarks he made on Wednesday in which he suggested the president could legally require masks amid a national emergency. But he vowed to encourage every governor to do so while criticising Trump for questioning the efficacy of masks.

Meanwhile, an ex-adviser to vice-president Mike Pence has joined the chorus of former Trump administration officials urging voters to deny him a second term.

Olivia Troye was Pence’s former homeland security adviser and served as a member of the White House’s

task force.

She said in a new video released on Thursday by the group Republican Voters Against Trump that the president was more concerned about his re-election chances than the virus. She said if Trump had taken the virus seriously, he would have saved lives.

Troye also claimed Trump once suggested the coronavirus might be a good thing because it would stop him from having to shake hands with “disgusting people.” She said she is a lifelong Republican who plans to vote for Biden for president.

The White House adamantly denied Troye’s allegations. Pence said her remarks read “to me like one more disgruntled employee that has decided to play politics during election year.”

Biden also took advantage of the event’s setting near his birthplace of Scranton, comparing his upbringing in a working-class town with what he derided as Trump’s “Park Avenue” background.

“Guys like me who were the first of my family to go to college … We are as good as anybody,” he said. “And guys like Trump, who inherited everything and squandered what they inherited, are the people that I’ve always had a problem with – not the people who are busting their neck.”

He said he would accept the results of November’s election, a stance that Trump has declined to adopt amid his unfounded claims that the widespread use of mail-in ballots due to the pandemic will cause massive fraud.

Electoral experts have said voter fraud is very rare in the US, where voting by mail is a long-standing practice in many states.

For much of the summer, Biden held mostly virtual events from his home in Delaware, drawing criticism from Trump that he was “hiding”. But Biden maintained an advantage over Trump in national opinion polls throughout, as the pandemic battered Trump’s standing among voters.

In recent weeks, Biden has begun to hold campaign events again in other states, but they have been largely devoid of attendees aside from reporters and invited guests in a nod to the coronavirus.

Trump, who has returned to holding large-scale rallies, took part in an ABC town hall with undecided voters earlier this week, where he defended his administration’s response to the outbreak.

At an outdoor rally in Mosinee, Wisconsin, on Thursday night, Trump told supporters that Biden “would absolutely eradicate your state’s economy” and mocked the CNN event for keeping attendees apart in cars.

Covid-19 has killed more than 195,000 people in the United States, the most of any country.

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