Donald Trump said Wednesday that people unvaccinated against coronavirus are the ones getting ‘very sick’ as he pushed back against conservative Candace Owens by claiming all Americans should get the jab while he again took credit for its creation.
‘I came up with a vaccine – with three vaccines,’ Trump told the Daily Wire host, referring to the development of the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines while he was still president. ‘All are very, very good. Came up with three of them in less than nine months. It was supposed to take five to 12 years.’
Owens interjected: ‘Yet more people have died under COVID this year, by the way, under Joe Biden, then under you and more people took the vaccine this year. So people are questioning how –’
But the former president interrupted Owens, assuring: ‘Oh no, the vaccine work (sic), but some people aren’t the ones. The ones who get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don’t take the vaccine. But it’s still their choice.’
‘And if you take the vaccine, you’re protected,’ he continued. ‘Look, the results of the vaccine are very good, and if you do get it, it’s a very minor form. People aren’t dying when they take the vaccine.’
So far 61.6 per cent of Americans are fully vaccinated, but that isn’t stopping a holiday surge in case rates. And some states are seeing numbers of new cases exceeding any other points during the pandemic as the highly transmissible Omicron variant continues to spread across the nation.
COVID cases in the U.S. have soared by 38 per cent in the last 24 hours to 238,278 new infections as the Omicron variant continues to spread, with some states seeing cases rocket by up to 670 per cent.
Thursday’s update in infection numbers from Johns Hopkins University saw diagnoses climb from 172,072 for the previous day. Deaths were also up slightly, from 2,093 yesterday to 2,204 today.
Hospitalizations sit just under 63,000, including almost 16,000 COVID patients receiving intensive care treatment, according to analysis by the New York Times. That is an 11 per cent increase on a fortnight previously, but still well below the winter 2020 peak of almost 130,000 in hospital, 30,000 of whom were in ICU.
Experts have warned that the virus could infect 140 million people between January and March – 60 percent of all Americans.
Joe Biden’s White House press secretary used Trump’s comments Wednesday to promote Americans getting vaccines.
‘We are grateful that the former president got the booster,’ Jen Psaki said during her briefing on Thursday. ‘We’re also grateful that he made clear in a recent interview that they’re effective and they’re safe, and that’s an important issue for anyone to hear.’
‘This isn’t a partisan issue, this is about saving lives, communicating accurate information, pushing back against inaccurate information, and in this particular case, the former president did that,’ she said in rare praise of Biden’s predecessor.
When asked if there’s a potential partnership in the future, Psaki said: ‘I don’t know that we think it requires a partnership.’
‘I think we believe that the former president being out there and stating what is factually accurate about the efficacy of vaccines, of getting booster which he recently did of course, is a good thing, right? And it’s a good thing to have a range of voices out there – Democrats, Republicans, independents, celebrities, non-celebrities, whomever people will be listening to out in the country.’
‘But certainly we would applaud, and have, the former president’s comments.’
Jen Psaki, in sharing a clip of the interview, tweeted Thursday: ‘Just going to echo former President Trump here on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. Merry Christmas eve eve. go get boosted’.
Anti-Trump Republican representative, Peter Meijer, also reposted the video and wrote: ‘If you haven’t already, please get one of the amazing COVID vaccines. I did (vax+booster).’
‘If you don’t want to take my word for it,’ the Michigan congressman added, ‘take the word of former President Trump. He got vax and booster too. Or ask your doctor or any other trusted source (not Facebook or YouTube!)’
Trump praised the vaccine and urged people to get it, which goes against a large portion of his base, but also opposed the increasing number of mandates related to masking and vaccinations.
‘Forget about the mandates, people have to have their freedom,’ Trump told Owens in the interview that aired Wednesday.
‘But at the same time, the vaccine is one of the greatest achievements of mankind.’
Trump, 75, said over the weekend when appearing with Bill O’Reilly in Texas that he has received his booster shot.
He has long been an advocate for people getting the vaccine, claiming it is safe and was developed under his presidency.
In rare moments, Trump has been booed by his supporters at rallies and other public appearances when he says they should get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The 45th president on Tuesday evening said he was ‘very appreciative’ of President Joe Biden paying tribute to his administration’s efforts to create the vaccine – adding that he was ‘surprised to hear it.’
Biden several hours prior had commended his predecessor for leading efforts to make the U.S. one of the first countries in the world to get a vaccine against COVID-19.
‘Thanks to the prior administration and our scientific community, America is one of the first countries to get the vaccine,’ Biden said Tuesday afternoon.
‘Thanks to my administration and the hard work of Americans, we led a rollout that made America among the world leaders in getting shots in arms,’ the president added.
Trump, who has frequently complained about not getting enough credit for his decisions in pushing the vaccine manufacture, said he was pleasantly surprised by the president’s words.
‘I’m very appreciative of that – I was surprised to hear it,’ Trump told Fox News Digital.
Trump also told Fox News of Biden’s comment: ‘I think it was a terrific thing, and I think it makes a lot of people happy.
‘I think he did something very good.
‘You know, it has to be a process of healing in this country, and that will help a lot.’
The 75-year-old – who on Sunday was booed during a tour stop with former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly, when he confirmed he had had the booster shot – said Americans should be ‘really happy’ about having access to vaccines.
‘When we came up with these incredible vaccines – three of them – and therapeutics, we did a tremendous job, and we should never disparage them,’ Trump said.
‘We should be really happy about it because we’ve all saved millions and millions of lives all over the world.’
Trump in May 2020 announced Operation Warp Speed (OWS) – a partnership between the Departments of Health and Human Services and Defense – aimed to help accelerate the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
OWS has invested an estimated $18 billion, mostly in the late-stage clinical development and early manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines, and has agreements in place to buy 455 million doses.
The scheme is by far the largest of the global efforts for development of COVID-19 vaccines.
By comparison, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) – founded in Davos by the governments of Norway and India, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and the World Economic Forum – has invested $1·4 billion in support of the development of COVID-19 vaccines.
Their vaccines, unlike those from OWS, are intended for a global audience.
Trump in December 2020 also signed an executive order that would ensure all Americans had access to coronavirus vaccines before the U.S. government could begin aiding nations around the world.
‘This is a great thing that we all did,’ Trump said, referring to the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines.
‘I may have been the vehicle, but we all did this together.’
Biden and Trump spoke as COVID-19 is once again surging across the U.S., and the new Omicron variant is gaining ground.
On Tuesday cases nationwide were up 29 per cent compared to two weeks ago, and deaths were up four per cent.
In Trump’s hometown of New York City, cases have surged in recent days to more than 15,000 on Monday – the highest level since at least January and about four times the number of cases recorded just one week earlier.
Hospitalizations in the city have been rising over the past month but are still at less than half the level of last winter’s peak, reaching about 270 new admissions a day on Monday, according to New York State figures.
The city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, on Tuesday offered $100 for any New Yorker who have not received their booster to do so.
Trump said vaccinations and the booster were the answer.
‘You have to embrace it. You don’t have to do it, and there can’t be mandates and all those things, but you have to embrace it,’ he said.
‘It’s a matter of getting people out to, ideally, get the vaccine.
‘If you have the mandate, the mandate will destroy people’s lives – it destroys people’s lives, just as the vaccine saves people.’
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