President Donald Trump is facing backlash for allegedly making misleading and factually inaccurate claims he made downplaying the coronavirus outbreak in the United States at a press conference during his visit to India Tuesday.
“I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away,” Trump said of the pandemic, which has expanded this week to Italy, Austria, Croatia, and Iran.
On the heels of this week’s new cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned that an outbreak in the U.S. is “inevitable.”
In Iran, a day after the country’s health minister made a public appearance to say all was well, it was announced he had coronavirus, according to CNN.
Meanwhile, Trump insisted in his remarks that a vaccine was imminent.
“They have studied. They know very much. In fact, we’re even close to a vaccine,” he said.
Infectious disease experts at the CDC have estimated that a vaccine for the virus is roughly 12-18 months away and that the”best way to prevent illness at the moment is to “avoid being exposed to this virus.”
The White House has walked back Trump’s comments, claiming the president was talking about the development of an Ebola vaccine, reports CNBC. The VSV Ebola vaccine has been in use since 2016 but is not yet licensed.
Trump was not the only White House official who was reportedly misrepresenting facts. At a Senate hearing that same day, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf echoed a similar line, promising a vaccine would be ready within “several months.”
“You’re telling me we’re months away from having a vaccine?” asked Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, a Republican. “That’s your testimony as head of the Department of Homeland Security?”
“That’s what I’ve been told by HHS [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] and CDC, yes,” Wolf responded.
Top Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow said in an interview with CNBC that the coronavirus has been “contained” and would not result in “economic tragedy,” as previously reported by The Inquisitr.
The Trump administration has faced bipartisan backlash over its emergency request for $2.5 billion to address the outbreak, with lawmakers on both sides saying the funds are not enough, complaining as well about a lack of transparency over efforts to contain the virus on U.S. soil.
The Republican chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee at HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s hearing accused the administration of making a “low ball” request.
“It could be an existential threat to a lot of people in this country,” warned Republican Alabama Senator Richard Shelby. “So money should not be an object. We should try to contain and eradicate this as much as we can, both in the U.S. and helping our friends all over the world.”
In one of his more recent social media posts, Trump again stressed that his administration has been keeping the virus under control, adding that it has not had a negative impact on the stock market.
“The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart,” the president tweeted yesterday. “Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”