Nolan D. McCaskill
“I beat this crazy, horrible China virus,” Trump claimed in a wide-ranging, 30-minute phone interview with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures.”
The president also suggested he now has immunity from the virus that has infected 7.7 million Americans and killed upwards of 214,000 people in the U.S. Those who have recovered from Covid-19 “have some immunity,” The Associated Press reported last week, “but how much and for how long are big unanswered questions.”
Trump expressed varying degrees of confidence in his immunity, remarking that “it seems like” he’s immune before declaring outright that he is immune and later doubling down on that self-assessment.
“It looks like I’m immune for, I don’t know, maybe a long time, maybe a short time,” the president said. “It could be a lifetime. Nobody really knows, but I’m immune.”
In case his message wasn’t clear enough, the president followed up his Fox News appearance with a tweet: “A total and complete sign off from White House Doctors yesterday. That means I can’t get it (immune), and can’t give it. Very nice to know!!!”
In the interview, Trump said he had passed “the highest test” and “the highest standards” and feels “fantastically.”
“I even feel good by the fact that, you know, the word ‘immunity’ means something,” he added. “Having really a protective glow means something. I think it’s very important to have that. To have that is a very important thing.”
Trump’s announcement on Oct. 2 that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for Covid-19 thrust his administration’s handling of the pandemic back to the forefront of the presidential contest, steering his campaign’s message away from the economy, law and order, and the Supreme Court. The president was briefly hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he was given access to the best care and an experimental drug, and an earlier White House event for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett led to at least eight attendees testing positive for the coronavirus.
Trump downplayed his treatment as “standard” and “pretty much routine,” with the exception of a “miracle” antibody treatment, and said he was no longer taking any medication. He added that his administration was awaiting an emergency-use authorization to begin delivering the antibody treatment to hospitals.
“Now I think I would’ve done well anyway, I think, you know, I hope. But, you know, who wants to take a chance, as the expression goes,” Trump said. “The antibody kind of thing that I took, I felt really good almost after taking it. … I know people call it a therapeutic, but, to me, it’s a cure, OK? To me, it’s a cure. I think it’s much more than a therapeutic, and I wanna get it immediately into the hospitals.”
“Again, I would’ve been fine,” Trump continued. “You know, I’m in good health. I think I would’ve been fine. And people have to realize that, and once you do recover, you’re immune, so now you have a president who doesn’t have to hide in a basement like his opponent. You have a president who is immune, which I think is a very important thing, frankly.”
The president also cited an early estimate that more than 2 million Americans could’ve died if the U.S. government did nothing to combat the virus, suggesting that the fraction of that mass toll of projected deaths was evidence that his administration had done “a phenomenal job.”
“One is too many, but 2.2 million was the prediction as to how many people would die,” Trump said. “We lost 200,000-plus, and, you know, there are those that say we did a phenomenal job. We did a phenomenal job.”
Only 40 percent of registered voters have confidence that Trump can handle the public health impact of the pandemic, according to a Pew Research Center survey, 17 points below the percentage of voters who have confidence in former Vice President Joe Biden’s ability to manage the outbreak.