President Donald Trump was hit with a series of questions about his handling of the COVID-19 crisis on national television on Tuesday evening, at one point repeating his controversial claim that the virus will “disappear,” this time saying it would because of “herd mentality.”
Trump was referring to herd immunity, where so many people get a disease and become immune to it that the spread is severely restricted or stopped. Some experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci of the White House coronavirus task force, have said that for this to happen with COVID-19, many people would have to die. Some scientists are more hopeful about the timing of herd immunity.
“It would go away without the vaccine?” asked ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, the moderator of the town hall-style program.
“Sure, with time,” Trump answered.
“And many deaths,” Stephanopoulos said.
“And you’ll develop a herd mentality. It’s going to be herd development and that’s going to happen. That will all happen. But with a vaccine, I think it will go away very quickly,” Trump said.
Trump’s remark that the coronavirus will “disappear” on Tuesday evening echoed comments he made in February, when he said, “It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
About 195,000 people in the US have died of COVID-19 in the nearly seven months that separate those comments.
The question from the audience that led to Trump’s remarks was from Ajani Powell, a student. “My question is, if you believe it’s the president’s responsibility to protect America, why would you downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities?” she asked.
Trump defended his early record on the virus, which led to a back and forth between him and Stephanopoulos.
“You were saying it’s going to disappear,” Stephanopoulos said.