Trump clings to bogus claim that he saved 2.2 million Americans from death by COVID-19
For months, President Trump has been pushing the idea that he and his administration saved the lives of "potentially 2.2 million people" during the pandemic. This claim is based on an early estimate by UK researchers of the deaths that the US government and US government citizens have taken absolutely nothing to respond to COVID-19.
While the president regularly throws back this claim to defend his administration's handling of the pandemic that has killed more than 212,000 Americans to date, he found a way on Thursday to turn it against former Vice President Joe Biden who continues to build on it his lead over the president in most polls.
Trump based his reasoning on a comparison with the H1N1 swine flu epidemic in 2009 when Biden was vice president. Approximately 60 million Americans contracted the virus that year and around 12,500 died.
"If he were responsible, 2.2 million people might have died from this much more deadly disease!" Trump wrote.
The biggest problem with which Trump dismissed the dire estimate of 2.2 million is the rather absurd idea that Americans or citizens of any other nation would not try to change their behavior at all, even though hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens died around them.
Indeed, this is what the authors of the Imperial College of London stated when they published their report on March 16.
“Without the (unlikely) absence of control measures or spontaneous changes in individual behavior, we would expect a peak in mortality (death rate) to occur after about 3 months. In such scenarios, with an estimated R0 [reproductive number] of 2.4, we predict that 81% of the population in [UK] and the US will be infected during the course of the epidemic, ”the report said, adding,“ Overall in As an unconstrained epidemic, we would predict approximately 510,000 deaths in the UK and 2.2 million in the US, ignoring the negative impact of health systems overwhelmed by mortality. "
President Trump arrives at the White House Monday after being treated for COVID-19 coronavirus at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. (Photo by Jabin Botsford / Washington Post via Getty Images)
While the report and its staggering hypothetical death toll are believed to have helped convince Trump of the gravity of the threat posed by the pandemic, the President's misappropriation of its findings is telling.
In an article on the website of the Cato Institute, the economist Alan Reynolds states that in the model researchers used "the reproduction rate is not a constant, but a variable that depends on many other things". The biggest variable, as seen over the past nine months, is how human behavior can affect the spread of the virus.
"Imperial College's worst estimate of 2.2 million deaths when everyone does" nothing "didn't just mean no government lockdown, as a two-curve White House graph of March 31 implies. It meant no one Avoiding crowded elevators, wearing face masks, washing their hands more often, buying gloves or hand sanitizer, everyone is doing literally nothing to avoid danger, ”Reynolds wrote.
Trump, of course, left the coronavirus restrictions to the state governors and has been pushing them to lift them for months. As such, he is in a bad position to demand recognition of deaths prevented by such measures. However, what the president recognizes most often for saving American lives is the implementation of a partial travel ban that prevented most, but not all, travel from China to the US.
"By closing, we've saved millions - potentially millions of lives," Trump said in July. "It could be 2 to 3 million lives."
As the Wall Street Journal noted on Thursday, by the time the ban went into effect in the United States, particularly California and New York, the virus had spread rapidly.
Whether Trump could have stopped the spread of COVID-19 by acting faster is controversial, but the claim that he somehow saved more than 2 million American lives is pure fiction. So far, the pandemic has claimed just over 1 million lives worldwide. This is likely because people, and sometimes governments, actually take action when they suspect they are at risk of death.
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