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President Trump and Joe Biden at the first presidential debate on Sept. 29.

President Trump said during a town hall event aired on NBC News Thursday that he does not recall being tested for the coronavirus before the first presidential debate on Sept. 29.

Why it matters: The president tested positive for the virus on Oct. 2, just three days after standing onstage with former Vice President Joe Biden. The Commission on Presidential Debates requires that candidates test before the event.

What he's saying: "I don't know, I don't even remember. I test all the time," Trump said after "Today" anchor Savannah Guthrie asked whether he had been tested on the day of the debate.

  • "I can tell you this, after the debate — like, I guess, a day or so — I think it was Thursday evening, maybe even late Thursday evening I tested positive. That's when I first found out"
  • Trump did not specify when exactly he tested negative before contracting the virus and noted he does not get tested everyday. He also told Fox Business earlier on Thursday that he's tested for the coronavirus "a lot," but "not every day."

The big picture: The White House has relied heavily on testing as a protective measure against the virus, but critics started raising questions about that strategy after the president, staffers, members of the press corps and members of the Trump family tested positive earlier this month.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”

Off the Rails

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Elijah Nouvelage, Alex Wong/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence. Trump believes the vice president can solve all his problems by simply refusing to certify the Electoral College results. It's a simple test of loyalty: Trump or the U.S. Constitution.

"The end is coming, Donald."

The male voice in the TV ad boomed through the White House residence during "Fox & Friends" commercial breaks. Over and over and over. "The end is coming, Donald. ... On Jan. 6, Mike Pence will put the nail in your political coffin."

Moderna says vaccine appears to protect against new COVID-19 variants

Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine is effective against new variants of the virus that first appeared in the U.K. and in South Africa, the company announced on Monday.

Yes, but: The vaccine was as effective against the strain from U.K., but saw a six-fold reduction in antibodies against the South Africa variant. Even still, the neutralizing antibodies generated by the vaccine "remain above levels that are expected to be protective," according to the company.