Trump says coronavirus will go away even without a vaccine

Though US may see flare-ups and inoculation would be helpful, it is not imperative, president says; believes 2021 will be ‘a phenomenal year’

US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Republican members of the US Congress in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 8, 2020. (MANDEL NGAN / AFP)
US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Republican members of the US Congress in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 8, 2020. (MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

US President Donald Trump on Friday said he believed the coronavirus “is going to go away without a vaccine. It’s gonna go away and we’re not gonna see it again, hopefully, after a period of time.”

Trump acknowledged that “you may have some flare-ups” in the fall or next year but said some diseases have died out without vaccines.

He also said “great progress” was being made on vaccine development by various companies and that a vaccine would be “helpful,” but even “if you don’t get it, this is going to go away at some point.”

Trump, who faces the prospect of high unemployment rates through the November elections, said the figures were “no surprise.”

“What I can do is I’ll bring it back,” Trump said. “Those jobs will all be back, and they’ll be back very soon. And next year we’ll have a phenomenal year.”

His optimism came even as the virus spread within the White House, with the press secretary of US Vice President Mike Pence testing positive.

Economists increasingly worry that it will take years to recover all the jobs lost. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office expects the jobless rate to be 9.5 percent by the end of 2021.

Trump said he was in “no rush” to negotiate another financial rescue bill, even as the government reported that more than 20 million Americans lost their jobs last month due to economic upheaval caused by the coronavirus.

Healthcare workers wait for patients at the Brightpoint Health and UJA-Federation of New York free pop-up coronavirus (COVID-19) testing site on May 8, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City (Angela Weiss / AFP)

The president’s low-key approach came as the Labor Department reported the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression and as Democrats prepared to unveil what Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer calls a “Rooseveltian-style” aid package to shore up the economy and address the health crisis.

Some congressional conservatives, meanwhile, who set aside long-held opposition to deficits to pass more than $2 trillion in relief so far, have expressed reservations about another massive spending package.

Hopes have been rising that the worst of the global catastrophe, which has killed more than 270,000 people, has passed, and the United States on Friday approved a new at-home saliva test to speed up diagnosis for COVID-19.

But after weeks in which half of humanity was restricted from carrying on normal life, the effects have been painfully visible, with the global economy suffering its most acute downturn in nearly a century.

In the United States, 20.5 million jobs were wiped out in April — the most ever reported — with unemployment rising to 14.7 percent, the highest since the Great Depression.

Pharmacist Sajay Hobarkar speaks during an interview on May 7, 2020 in New York City (Angela Weiss / AFP)

The world’s largest economy has suffered the deadliest coronavirus outbreak, with more than 77,000 fatalities and nearly 1.3 million cases.

A number of governments are moving to ease restrictions. Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, took decisive early action that stemmed the virus and Chancellor Angela Merkel plans an almost complete return to normal within the month.

Italy, where deaths on Friday passed 30,000, plans to allow worshipers to return to mass, while Denmark said Friday that cinemas, museums and zoos would open on June 8.

In Britain, which after the US has suffered the world’s highest death toll with over 31,000 fatalities, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to offer a roadmap out of lockdown on Sunday.

But the European Commission recommended that the 27-nation bloc keep banning non-essential entry of visitors until June 15, an extension of one month.

“The situation remains fragile both in Europe and in the world,” it said in a statement.

The virus that has infected 3.9 million people worldwide overshadowed one of the most important dates on the European calendar — the anniversary of the end of World War II on the continent.

Parades and commemorations to mark 75 years since Nazi Germany’s surrender were canceled or scaled down, and the thoughts of many national leaders were on fighting the new global challenge.

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tour the World War II Memorial after taking part in a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe, in Washington, DC, on May 8, 2020. (MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

The US stunned members at the UN Security Council by preventing a vote on a resolution that called for a ceasefire in various conflicts around the world.

The resolution, led by France and Tunisia, called for a cessation of hostilities in conflict zones and a 90-day “humanitarian pause” to allow governments to better address the pandemic among those suffering most.

A US State Department official told AFP that China had “repeatedly blocked compromises that would have allowed the Council to move forward.”

Diplomats said the United States was concerned about language in the resolution on the role of the World Health Organization, which has been at the forefront of confronting COVID-19.

Trump has vowed to freeze the more than $400 million in annual US funding for the UN body, charging that it did not act quickly enough when the mysterious respiratory disease emerged in Wuhan and blindly took the word of China.

The US State Department on Friday also accused China and Russia of sharply escalating disinformation online about the virus, including promoting conspiracy theories that it was cooked up by US scientists.

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