Trump says it's 'terrific' so many Americans have caught the coronavirus because it 'is a very powerful vaccine in itself'
- President Donald Trump said it was "terrific" that so many Americans had caught coronavirus infections, a comment that appeared to back the concept of herd immunity.
- "You develop immunity over a period of time. And I hear we're close to 15%, I'm hearing that, and that's terrific, that's a very powerful vaccine in itself," he told reporters on Tuesday.
- Herd immunity has been largely discredited as a strategy for tackling the virus because to achieve it in a country as large as the United States would risk millions of deaths.
President Donald Trump said it was "terrific" that the US had so many coronavirus cases, describing coronavirus infections as "a powerful vaccine in itself."
Trump told reporters at a White House coronavirus vaccine event on Tuesday that "the vaccine was our goal," before adding: "That was number one because that was the way it ends, plus you do have an immunity, you develop immunity over a period of time.
"And I hear we're close to 15%. I'm hearing that, and that's terrific, that's a very powerful vaccine in itself."
—Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 8, 2020
The president's comments appeared to back the concept of herd immunity, in which enough of a population develops immunity to a virus that it can no longer spread.
The 15% figure appeared to refer to a recent estimate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the percentage of Americans who had been infected at the end of September.
While vaccines are an obvious path toward herd immunity, some countries, including the UK, initially backed the idea of pursuing it by allowing the virus to spread among those considered least at risk of serious health complications.
That strategy has since been largely discredited as a means of tackling the virus, principally because to achieve it in a country as large as the US would most likely put millions of people at risk of dying.
There are also growing concerns about "long COVID," a debilitating set of symptoms including fatigue and shortness of breath that many people infected by the coronavirus experience for months afterward.
The US has already recorded more than 280,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, the highest tally of coronavirus deaths in the world.
The number of recorded cases continues to rise dramatically across the country as well, passing 15 million on Tuesday, per Reuters, and the CDC said last week that hospital admissions were at their highest rate since the start of the pandemic.
Attempts to achieve herd immunity have not been successful elsewhere. Sweden, which was almost unique in its decision not to impose lockdown measures, is experiencing surges in coronavirus cases and deaths and last week moved to close high schools for a month, per Reuters.
A British woman this week became the first person in a Western country to receive an approved coronavirus vaccine, and the US could follow as soon as this week.
Per Reuters, Pfizer on Tuesday moved one step closer to securing approval in the US after the FDA released documents saying that it had found no new issues with the safety of the vaccine.
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