The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, on Wednesday. Alex Wong/Getty Images

A reporter asked Jen Psaki whether she believed Joe Biden was responsible for US vaccine hesitancy.

Psaki responded by bringing up Donald Trump’s COVID-19 disinfectant comment from last year.

The uptake of COVID-19 vaccinations slowed in the US over the summer.

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The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, called out one of President Donald Trump’s most infamous coronavirus comments Wednesday in a cutting response to a Fox News reporter’s question.

Fox News’ White House correspondent, Peter Doocy, had asked Psaki at a daily press briefing whether President Joe Biden had “created some vaccine hesitancy” when he said in September that he didn’t trust Trump, who was overseeing the early stages of the vaccine rollout.

Uptake of COVID-19 vaccines slowed in the US over much of the spring and summer after the country was among the first to have widespread access to them. Officials continue to stress the safety of the vaccines as the highly infectious Delta coronavirus variant causes a surge in cases.

Read more: These millennial and Gen Z staffers are part of Jen Psaki’s 11-person army that keeps the White House on message

When pushed for a response, Psaki told Doocy there was no data to suggest Biden had contributed to vaccine hesitancy.

She added: “I would note that at the time, just for context, the former president was also suggesting people inject versions of poison into their veins to cure COVID. So I think that’s a relevant point.”

She appeared to be referring to a daily briefing in April 2020 when Trump suggested the US should study whether disinfectant – which is used to clean surfaces but is toxic to humans – might be injected as a COVID-19 cure.

“I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute, and is there a way you can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning?” Trump mused at a press conference.

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“Because you see it gets in the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it’d be interesting to check that. So you’re going to have to use medical doctors, but it sounds interesting to me, so we’ll see.”

Doocy’s question came after Kayleigh McEnany, the Trump press secretary who is now a Fox News host, on Monday accused the Biden administration of being the country’s “biggest contributor to vaccine hesitancy.”

Biden consistently promoted vaccines both before and after taking office. He received both his first and his second dose on camera as part of an effort to reassure people the process was safe.

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