The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump says coronavirus will disappear without a vaccine. Fauci has said the opposite.

President Trump on May 8 reiterated that he thought the novel coronavirus would “go away” even without a vaccine, attributing his claim to unspecified doctors. (Video: The Washington Post)

President Trump has been bullish about a coronavirus vaccine — so much so that experts have had to talk him off a more aggressive timeline for it.

But on Friday, Trump seemed to shift his rhetoric on the topic, saying we don’t even need one for the virus to go away. “I just rely on what doctors say,” Trump said when pressed.

Except that’s not what his coronavirus task force doctor, Anthony S. Fauci, says.

Trump offered his new comments about the potential vaccine Friday afternoon at the White House.

“I feel about vaccines like I feel about tests: This is going to go away without a vaccine,” Trump said. “It’s going to go away, and we’re not going to see it again, hopefully, after a period of time.”

Trump said that there could be “flare-ups,” including in the fall, but that it would go away regardless.

“There are some viruses or flus that came and they went for a vaccine, and they never found the vaccine,” Trump said. “And they’ve disappeared. They never showed up again. They die, too, like everything else.”

Pressed on the claim, he doubled down.

“They say it’s going to go — that doesn’t mean this year — doesn’t mean it’s going to be gone, frankly, by fall or after the fall,” Trump said. “But eventually it’s going to go away. The question is will we need a vaccine. At some point it’s going to probably go away by itself. If we had a vaccine that would be very helpful.”

Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, President Trump has repeatedly said that the virus will disappear. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Fauci, though, has said we need a vaccine.

A few weeks ago, Fauci was asked on Fox News about comments Joe Biden had made, that “this isn’t going to be over until we have a vaccine.”

Fauci responded: “There’s truth to that. It’s not going to be over to the point of our being able to not do any mitigation until we have a scientifically sound, safe and effective vaccine.”

A week earlier, at a White House briefing, Fauci was asked whether we will “truly get back to normal in this country before there’s an actual vaccine that’s available to everybody.”

Fauci said we wouldn’t.

“If ‘back to normal’ means acting like there never was a coronavirus problem, I don’t think that’s going to happen until we do have a situation where you can completely protect the population,” Fauci said.

While the question was specifically about a vaccine, Fauci’s answer seemed to allow for the alternative of a very effective treatment. But Fauci said of the question about the vaccine, “You’re absolutely right.”

“I mean, if you want to get to pre-coronavirus, you know, that might not ever happen in the sense of the fact that the threat is there,” he said. “But I believe, with the therapies that will be coming online, and with the fact that I feel confident that over a period of time we will get a good vaccine, that we will never have to get back to where we are right now.”

Trump’s comments also contrast with what he said a few days ago in a Fox News town hall. Trump at the time said the country is in “need” of a vaccine.

“And I want it — I need the vaccine,” Trump said Sunday. “We need — this country needs the vaccine. And you’re going to have it by the end of the year. I firmly believe it. I may be wrong.”

Coronavirus: What you need to know

Vaccines: The CDC recommends that everyone age 5 and older get an updated covid booster shot designed to target both the original virus and the omicron variant. Here’s some guidance on when you should get the omicron booster and how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections.

Variants: Instead of a single new Greek letter variant, a group of immune-evading omicron spinoffs are popping up all over the world. Any dominant variant will likely knock out monoclonal antibodies, targeted drugs that can be used as a treatment or to protect immunocompromised people.

Tripledemic: Hospitals are overwhelmed by a combination of respiratory illnesses, staffing shortages and nursing home closures. And experts believe the problem will deteriorate further in coming months. Here’s how to tell the difference between RSV, the flu and covid-19.

Guidance: CDC guidelines have been confusing — if you get covid, here’s how to tell when you’re no longer contagious. We’ve also created a guide to help you decide when to keep wearing face coverings.

Where do things stand? See the latest coronavirus numbers in the U.S. and across the world. In the U.S., pandemic trends have shifted and now White people are more likely to die from covid than Black people. Nearly nine out of 10 covid deaths are people over the age 65.

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