Coronavirus pandemic
Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
US President Donald Trump leads the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House. Photo: Reuters

Coronavirus: Trump plays down threat of second deadly wave

  • US president suggests the deadly disease ‘may not come back at all’
  • Medical experts say the virus could pose threat to US for years to come

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday played down concerns over a possible second wave of coronavirus infections later in the year, saying it “can never be like anything that we’ve witnessed right now”.

The remarks came as the head of the US health protection agency the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention warned of an even more “difficult” time next winter because two respiratory illnesses could be circulating at the same time – the novel coronavirus and influenza.

Trump asserted at a press conference that the return of the coronavirus could be “some little flare-up” that can be quickly contained.

“In my opinion from everything I’ve seen, it can never be like anything that we’ve witnessed right now,” partly due to better containment measures, Trump said, though admitting that seeing the coronavirus and flu coming together is “not great” and could bring about a “mess”.

Trump also suggested the possibility that the coronavirus may “not come back at all,” although the view was quickly refuted by Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases, during the same press conference.

“We will have coronavirus in the fall. I am convinced of that because of the degree of transmissibility that it has, the global nature,” Fauci said, while adding that the scale of the outbreak would depend on containment measures.

“Nobody can predict what is going to happen with an outbreak but you can predict how you’re going to respond to it. And that’s really very important,” the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said.

Italian hospital offers Anthony Fauci work if Donald Trump fires him

Trump, who has faced criticism for initially downplaying the threat of the virus after it was first detected in China, is pushing to restart the economy from the coronavirus shutdown as new cases appear to have peaked.

A possible resurgence in the fall could imperil the president’s re-election campaign, which hinges on how well he manages the crisis. Trump’s political opponents have already seized on his past claims from January and February that the virus was “under control”.

The United States has the world’s highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, exceeding 840,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The death toll has reached over 46,000.

Meanwhile, the head of the US agency in charge of developing a vaccine against coronavirus said Wednesday that he was removed from his job for opposing the chloroquine treatment promoted by Trump.

Dr Rick Bright said he was removed on Tuesday as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the government agency for developing and procuring treatments and vaccines, and moved to a lesser position in the National Institutes of Health.

Top US health official says he was ousted for opposing Trump-touted drug

“I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit,” he said in a statement to US media.

He said the move was a direct response to his resistance to “misguided directives” to support the use of malaria treatments chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus.

Despite his own science advisers suggesting more study is needed, Trump repeatedly pushed for the drugs’ use, claiming the treatment could be a “gift from God” to counter the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday the results of the largest study yet of hydroxychloroquine, funded by the US government, showed no benefit against the disease over standard care. It showed use of hydroxychloroquine was associated with more deaths.

Kyodo, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg