'It's gonna be eradicated': Trump suggests coronavirus will disappear even without vaccine

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President has previously claimed Covid-19 will vanish like a 'miracle'

World | The Independent

Donald Trump has issued an optimistic assessment of the world’s route out of the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting Covid-19 will be “eradicated” with or without a vaccine.

“If you don’t have a vaccine, if the virus is gone, we are like we were before ... Having a vaccine would be a great thing, and I think we are going to get there in this case. I want to get back with or without,” the president said during a White House meeting with business leaders. “But obviously we have to wait until it is gone. And it will be gone.”

Pressed by a reporter who asked why he believed that even without a vaccine “the virus will just be gone”, Mr Trump replied: “It’s gonna go. It’s gonna leave. It’s gonna be gone. It’s gonna be eradicated.

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“And it might take longer, it might be in smaller sections … Again, if you have a flare-up in a certain area, if you have a – I call them burning embers – boom. You put it out. We know how to put it out now. But we put it out.”

The president’s remarks repeated an assertion he made at another briefing earlier this week, where he said: ”I think what happens is it’s going to go away. This is going to go away.” He acknowledged that the virus might come back in a “modified form”, but said the US was now prepared to “put out spurts”.

He made a similar prediction in late February at a meeting to mark Black History Month. “It’s going to disappear,” he reassured his audience. “One day – it’s like a miracle – it will disappear.”

This notion does not appear to be supported by experts, including those advising the president directly. Dr Anthony Fauci recently predicted that the US could be in for a bad autumn and winter depending on how effectively the country moves to protect itself.

“It’s inevitable that we will have a return of the virus, or maybe that it never even went away. When it does, how we handle it will determine our fate,” the expert said.

Other countries are making clear that they consider the development of a vaccine a prerequisite for returning to normal life. The UK’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, told a press conference last week: “In the long run, the exit from this is going to be one of two things, ideally. A vaccine, and there are a variety of ways they can be deployed... or, and or, highly effective drugs so that people stop dying of this disease even if they catch it, or which can prevent this disease in vulnerable people.”

The US government is reportedly attempting to fast-track the development and testing of a coronavirus vaccine via a programme called “Operation Warp Speed”. Its goal is to accelerate the development of a vaccine from 12-18 months to a mere eight, and to build up enough stocks to vaccinate the bulk of its population by January 2021.

More than 58,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the US – the highest total anywhere in the world, notwithstanding claims that China is underreporting its own death toll. Some 1 million people have been infected.

Until the pandemic struck Mr Trump had made the strength of the American economy the central pillar of his re-election campaign, but coronavirus has forced a massive reduction of activity and an associated spike in unemployment. The president is now urging states to “re-open” their economies after weeks of lockdown.

At the same time as he has lost his main campaigning tool the president is fighting widespread criticism of his administration’s uneven response to Covid-19. In the face of those attacks, the president’s son-in-law and close adviser Jared Kushner insisted yesterday on Fox and Friends that the government’s response had been “a great success story”, and talked up America’s capacity to test for the virus.

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