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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

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Dec 23, 2020 - Health

Why Americans will demand to be able to prove they're vaccinated

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

You've received a coronavirus vaccination — but can you prove it? The answer to that question will help determine how the global economy functions for the next few years.

Why it matters: The federal government will probably neither mandate nor encourage digital immunity passports or other proofs of vaccination. But privately-operated digital certificates are already being developed — and U.S. law means that anybody who gets vaccinated here should be able to obtain the proof they need.

Dec 24, 2020 - Health

Mexico becomes first Latin American country to vaccinate against COVID

A nurse was the first person in Mexico to receive the vcaccine. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty

Mexico became the first Latin American country to begin coronavirus vaccinations, amid a surge in cases, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The serum arrives as Mexico's hospitals reach a breaking point. The country tallies over 1.3 million COVID-19 cases and 120,000 deaths, per John Hopkins University data, though actual numbers are believed to be much higher.

Fight over Putin's pipeline consumes Congress

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Biden administration, House and Senate Democrats and even the German government are engaged in a multi-pronged effort to stop Congress from imposing mandatory sanctions on a Kremlin-backed natural gas pipeline.

Why it matters: President Biden's decision to let Nord Stream 2 proceed has put his allies in an uncomfortable bind. Republicans have already blocked dozens of Biden's foreign-policy nominees, and the dispute threatened to derail an annual defense bill passed by Congress every year for six decades.