Sep 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

McEnany says herd immunity has never been COVID strategy, despite Trump comments

Trump sits for an ABC town hall on Tuesday
Trump and George Stephanopoulos at an ABC town hall on Sept. 15. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that "herd immunity has never been a strategy" for the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus, after the president claimed on Tuesday that the coronavirus would disappear when people develop "a herd mentality."

Why it matters: A state of herd immunity, in which widespread outbreaks are prevented because enough people in a community are immune to a disease, would likely cause mass death if not pursued by way of a vaccine. The magic number often cited for herd immunity is a minimum of 60% of the population.

Driving the news: Trump claimed at an ABC town hall on Tuesday that the coronavirus would "disappear" over time without a vaccine, although he noted that "it's going to go away a lot faster with it."

  • In response to ABC News' George Stephanopoulos saying that the virus would go away over time with "many deaths," Trump added: “And you’ll develop herd — like a herd mentality. It’s going to be — it’s going to be herd-developed, and that’s going to happen. That will all happen.”
  • McEnany said that Trump was noting that countries can reach herd immunity over a period of time.

The bottom line: A coronavirus vaccine is needed to reinforce herd immunity, especially without a significant loss of life.

Go deeper: Herd immunity is the U.S.' new default coronavirus strategy

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