Earlier this week, we learned that Pfizer and Moderna, the two drug manufacturers with the most promising COVID-19 vaccines, declined invitations from the White House to attend Donald Trump’s “vaccine summit.” The companies presumably chose to do so in an effort to avoid their drugs being politicized, or being associated with the Trump administration in any way whatsoever. (A third factor may have been a desire not to contract the coronavirus, which at this point is basically a 50-50 chance for anyone who visits the White House.) And now that the event has concluded, you can probably see where they were coming from!
While another, saner, more humanoid president might have kicked things off by congratulating the nation’s hardworking scientists and offering some words of hope during these extremely scary times, Trump chose to begin by playing a deceptively edited video trashing Anthony Fauci, among others:
The event…was the typical Trumpian mixture of political theatrics, brags, grievances and accolades doled out based on fealty to his preferred narrative…. The gathering opened with a video castigating media pundits, [Joe] Biden, and Fauci for offering more cautious assessments of the vaccine development timeline.
But many of the remarks the video highlighted were misleadingly portrayed. Fauci, for instance, was shown saying a vaccine arrival “could be January, could be later,” a statement that is largely true, especially for the majority of the population. Biden was also shown saying there is “no prospect” for the majority of the public to get a vaccine before the middle of 2021, a timeline that mostly tracks with the tentative rollout schedule.
Later, Trump claimed that before he came on the scene, practically no vaccines had ever been created, telling the group assembled: “Before Operation Warp Speed, the typical timeframe for development and approval, as you know, could be infinity.”
Then, in the midst of his “vaccine summit,” Trump suggested that if enough people die from COVID-19, we won’t need vaccines at all.
This should come as no shocker, but President Trump just outright endorsed herd immunity.
"Plus, you develop immunity over a period of time. I hear we’re close to 15%, I’m hearing that, and that is terrific, that’s a very powerful vaccine in itself." pic.twitter.com/znctG7mKfD
— Benjy Renton (@bhrenton) December 8, 2020
To be clear, people contracting a virus is not “a very powerful vaccine,” or any kind of vaccine, period. Also, the estimate for how many people would have to die for the U.S. to achieve herd immunity is approximately 2.13 million, according to The Washington Post. So there’s that.
And hey, it wouldn‘t have been a Trump event in 2020 if it didn’t involve the president of the United States claiming the election was stolen from him and seemingly asking people to help him stage a coup, saying just before he exited the room: “If somebody has the courage, I know who the next administration will be.”
Trump calls for judges and Republican legislators to have the "courage" to help him overthrow the election, then says, "I'll tell you what, life will be much easier for this country." He then exits the White House event to cheers. pic.twitter.com/tb7QiskANf
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 8, 2020
It’s truly a mystery why Pfizer and Moderna wouldn’t want to be part of that.
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