President Donald Trump contradicted his own health experts to tell astonished reporters on Friday that COVID-19 will “go away without a vaccine.”
“I feel about vaccines like I feel about tests. This is going to go away without a vaccine. It’s gonna go away, and we’re not going to see it again, hopefully, after a period of time,” Trump said at the White House after meeting with Republican members of Congress.
He did admit there might be some “flare-ups” before COVID-19 goes away, but “maybe not,” and predicted, “we’ll be able to put them out.”
Pressed about what evidence he has seen that the pandemic will vanish without a vaccine, Trump responded: “I just rely on what doctors say. They say it’s gonna go.” (Hear his remarks in the video above.)
Doctors don’t say that, however. Just last month, Trump’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said that COVID-19′s spread is “not going to be over to the point of our being able to not do any mitigation” — taking precautions such as social distancing, for instance — “until we have a scientifically sound, safe and effective vaccine.”
The coronavirus has infected at least 1.2 million Americans and killed more than 76,000.
Over a week ago, Trump launched “Operation Warp Speed” to accelerate the production of a vaccine to fight the virus, and he said himself in a virtual Fox News town hall last Sunday that the nation needs a vaccine.
Although Fauci has said it could take a year to 18 months to develop one, Trump said Sunday that a vaccine could be available by the end of the year, adding: “The doctors would say, ‘Well, you shouldn’t say that.’ I’ll say what I think.”
On Friday, Trump eventually conceded that a vaccine would be “very helpful,” but said that “there are some viruses or flus that came, and they went for a vaccine, and they never found the vaccine.”
“And they’ve disappeared,” he added, apparently referring to other types of viruses. “They never showed up again. They die, too, like everything else.”
“They say it’s going to go — that doesn’t mean this year — doesn’t mean it’s going to be gone, frankly, by fall or after the fall,” he said. “But eventually it’s going to go away.”
The nation could develop “herd immunity” without a vaccine if most of the population is exposed to the coronavirus — but that would entail a massive death toll.
Trump later acknowledged the deadly consequences of relying on herd immunity. “What I can say is if we did it the different way — if we went ‘herd,’ if we just said, ‘let’s wing it’ — we would’ve been talking about numbers [of dead] that would’ve been unsustainable,” he said.
At one point Friday, Trump appeared dismissive about coronavirus testing as well.
He shared that Katie Miller, the vice president’s press secretary who is married to senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller, tested positive for the coronavirus “out of the blue” after several negative tests.
“This is why the whole concept of tests aren’t necessarily great,” he concluded. “For some reason, she tested positive.”