“I just want to make something clear: it’s very important, vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back,” he said.
Trump pointed to America’s resilience in the 1918 Spanish flu and the long-term immunity that was born from it.
“You fight through it, and people sometimes, I guess we don’t know exactly yet, but it looks like you become immune, at least for a short while and maybe for life.”
The president also expressed optimism that coronavirus will, at some point, “go away,” contradicting the World Health Organization’s suggestion that it “may never go away,” as reported by The Guardian.
“It may flare up, and it may not flare up,” Trump said. “We’ll have to see what happens, but if it doesn’t flare up, we’ll have to put out the fire.”
Trump and members of the coronavirus task force notably did not wear masks at the press conference. When pressed by CNN about the decision, the president pointed to the testing they all underwent prior to the event and their adherence to social distancing recommendations.
“We’re outdoors, so I told them, I gave them the option, they can wear it or not,” he said.
TRUMP: “Vaccine or no Vaccine, we’re back.” pic.twitter.com/KlWIdAtOiC
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) May 15, 2020
While Trump appears optimistic about his plans to fast-track vaccine development, a project dubbed Operation Warp Speed, not all public health experts are on board. According to Vox, a COVID-19 vaccine may take longer than the predicted 12 to 18 months.
Although the publication noted that it’s possible development will happen sooner than this timeframe, it also highlighted the possibility that it will be longer. In particular, some experts caution that the 12- to 18-month timeframe may be “optimistic,” especially considering that the previous vaccine record was four years.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, called the current timeline “very ambitious.” In addition, Kendall Hoyt, a vaccine and biosecurity expert at Dartmouth, suggested that such a schedule is only possible without any problems in the process.
Vox also noted that it’s possible that, like pathogens like HIV and malaria, there will never be a coronavirus vaccine. Furthermore, the creation of a vaccine must be followed by research on its safety and efficacy. Failure to account for possible safety issues could not only harm the American public, but provide anti-vaccination advocates with ammunition for their cause.