Former President Trump is defending his record on COVID-19, saying he never got the “credit that I deserved” on how he managed the pandemic as president.
“I got a lot of good marks on economy. I got a lot of good marks on a lot of things. Rebuilding the military, getting rid of ISIS, the biggest tax cuts in history,” Trump said in an interview on SiriusXM’s “The Megyn Kelly Show” airing Thursday. “I never got, I think, the credit that I deserved on COVID.”
With much of his political base skeptical of coronavirus vaccines, Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, has tried to tread carefully when touting the success of his Operation Warp Speed, which developed highly effective and safe vaccines in record time.
In his interview with Kelly, Trump touted his accomplishments by quoting “very smart” Democrats who, he said, tell him that “you saved a hundred million people worldwide” with the vaccines.
Democrats have long criticized Trump’s handling of the pandemic, both in terms of lives lost and the damage to the economy.
“And I’ll tell you, the way I look at it, it came in, and nobody knew what it was. We have to put ourselves back then. I had a meeting, and we had a lot of professionals in the Oval Office. They say, ‘Sir, something bad is happening in the world.’ I said, ‘What’s that?’ And they said, ‘People are dying. They’re dying in China, in this area,’” Trump said.
“All of a sudden they had something where the first person died in the United States. And then another. And then it died — and then they started dying all over Italy and all over Europe. Nobody really knew what it was, Megyn,” he added.
Public health officials have pushed back on such claims, and a 2022 report from the National Institutes of Health said, “Not only the words, but also the substance, of the Trump administration’s policy reaction to the pandemic suggest a tragic failure to proactively mount a focused, whole‐of‐government and whole‐of‐society response to indications of a rapidly intensifying public health threat.”