Former President Donald Trump offered an enthusiastic defense of the COVID-19 vaccine during an interview this week, saying he is “proud” of his administration’s accomplishment on the issue and believes the vaccine has saved millions of lives.
Trump made the remarks during an interview with the British magazine The Spectator, which asked the former president about mandates. He said he opposes mandates, although he quickly turned the conversation to his administration’s record on vaccines.
The FDA granted emergency use authorization to three vaccines during Trump’s term: those by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson.
All three vaccines were part of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed partnership with the private sector. The goal was to develop and distribute a vaccine to the general public as soon as possible.
“Look, I’m a believer of the vaccine. I’m the one that came up with it in nine months or less. And I think millions and millions of people, I think lives have been saved all over the world. I’m very proud of the vaccine and they could have never done it,” Trump said of the Biden administration. “I did it in less than nine months. We’re supposed to be five years and at the end of five years, most people thought you wouldn’t have it. And it does work. It’s very effective.”
Without the vaccine, Trump asserted, the death toll could have been comparable to the Spanish flu pandemic one century earlier.
“I think we would have had something very similar if we didn’t have the vaccines. But again, I took it,” he said. “I’m very proud of it, but I’m also proud of the fact that I believe people have to be able to make a choice and to have their freedom.”
State-level data supports Trump’s assertion that the vaccines have saved lives.
In Mississippi, for example, 87 percent of COVID hospitalizations and 87 percent of COVID deaths in August were among those who were not fully vaccinated, according to the state’s Department of Health.
More than 215 million Americans – and 78 percent of the U.S. adult population – have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Worldwide, more than 3 billion people have received at least one dose.
In September, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett touted his nation’s vaccination success and said citizens who had received a booster shot were 40 times less likely to contract COVID than those who are not vaccinated.
“I can report that it works,” Bennett said of the vaccine.
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Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Brandon Bell/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.