President Trump on Friday broke with health experts, telling reporters that the coronavirus will “go away without a vaccine.”
“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. “You may have some flare-ups, and I guess I would expect that.”
Just days ago the Trump administration launched Operation Warp Speed, a project to accelerate the production of a vaccine for the coronavirus, which as of Friday had infected at least 1.2 million Americans and killed more than 76,000 here.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading expert on infectious diseases on the coronavirus task force, has repeatedly cautioned that a vaccine is still at least a year to 18 months from being made available to the public.
In an interview last week with Fox News, Fauci said the coronavirus outbreak was “not going to be over to the point of our being able to not do any mitigation until we have a scientifically sound, safe and effective vaccine.”
Asked what led him to believe that the virus would disappear without a vaccine, Trump claimed he had received that information from medical professionals.
“I just rely on what doctors say. They say it’s going to go. That doesn’t mean this year. It doesn’t mean, frankly, it’s going to be gone before the fall or after the fall, but eventually it’s going to go away. The question is whether we will need a vaccine. At some point it will probably go away by itself.”
Asked how often he met with Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, who also serves on the coronavirus task force, Trump replied, “A lot. A lot.”
Birx said last week that it was possible the intensified government focus on developing a vaccine could help produce one as early as January.
“The way that it’s possible is if you bring forward five or six different classes of candidates, which Operation Warp Speed has done,” Birx said in an interview with Fox News. “And so it’s not relying on a single vaccine platform. It’s relying on several different candidates that are made differently and act differently.”
A Yahoo News/YouGov poll released Friday showed that just 55 percent of Americans planned to get vaccinated against COVID-19 when it became available. Nineteen percent surveyed said they would not take a vaccine for the virus, while 26 percent said they were not sure.
On Tuesday, Trump was asked whether he would personally receive a vaccine shot for the coronavirus if one was developed.
“If they would like me to, I’d go the first one or I’d go the last one. I don’t want to waste it,” he responded.
Reminded of that answer, in which he added that he would “absolutely” get a vaccine depending on his doctor’s advice, Trump seemed more hesitant Friday.
“I didn’t say I wanted to, that’s not a correct statement,” he said. “You said, ‘Would you be,’ and I said if it was good for the country I’d be, and if it was bad for the country, I’ll wait to be the last one or I wouldn’t do it at all.”
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