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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Louise Hall

‘Powerful vaccine in itself’: Trump says it’s ‘terrific’ that nearly 15 per cent of Americans got Covid

Photograph: EPA

Donald Trump has said it is “terrific” that nearly 15 per cent of Americans have contracted the coronavirus since the outbreak began in the US, citing the “powerful vaccine" of herd immunity.

During an Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit on Tuesday, Mr Trump was asked how Americans in areas with surging cases should protect themselves over Christmas ahead of the likely distribution of a vaccine.

In response, Mr Trump deferred to the Centres for Disease Control guidelines before citing growing immunity in the population as a result of the virus’ virulent spread throughout the country.

“Plus, you do have an immunity. You develop immunity over a period of time, and I hear we’re close to 15 per cent. I’m hearing that, and that is terrific,” Mr Trump said.

“That’s a very powerful vaccine in itself. And just tremendous progress has been made.”

The comments come as the country struggles with a resurgence of the virus, with record infections and a daily death toll that has exceeded 2,000 in recent days.

In total, more than 15 million Americans have been infected with the virus since the pandemic gripped the US in March, leading to the deaths of over 286,000 people.

Last week, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) predicted that a total of half a million people will have lost their lives by 1 April as a result of the disease.

In October, the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it would be “unethical” to establish widespread immunity within a population by allowing the virus to spread and infect people.

"Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

During the conference, Mr Trump celebrated the expected approval of the first US vaccine, branding it a “miracle” while praising his administration’s effort for its production and distribution.

The US Food and Drug Administration made research data public for the first time that showed the vaccine was found to be strongly protective against Covid-19, making the approval of the shot seem likely and imminent.

If the vaccine is approved, the first recipients would be health care workers and nursing home residents, according to plans laid out by each state.

President-elect Joe Biden has told Americans that he will oversee the distribution of 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days as president, but only if the Trump administration cooperates.

In the speech on Tuesday, Mr Biden outlined his immediate plans for his first term in office, including the reopening of most of the nation's schools and a mask-wearing mandate.

“Masking, vaccination, opening schools, these are the three key goals for my first 100 days,” he said.

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