President Donald Trump said at the Rose Garden press conference on Friday that the United States will continue working speedily to develop a coronavirus vaccine but that it was time to reopen the country.
“I just want to make something clear: it’s very important, vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back,” Trump said.
The president recalled that America successfully went through the Spanish flu in 1913 and built an immunity to the virus.
“You fight through it, and people sometimes, I guess we don’t know exactly yet, but it looks like you become immune, at least for a short while and maybe for life,” Trump said.
The president also said the virus will go away eventually.
“It’ll go away at some point. It will go away. It may flare up, and it may not flare up. We’ll have to see what happens, but if it doesn’t flare up, we’ll have to put out the fire,” he said.
Trump said Dr. Moncef Slaoui will continue to lead the Operation Warp Speed task force with Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“We’re looking for a full vaccine for everyone that wants to get it,” Trump said. “Not everyone wants to get it.”
The president did not wear a mask at the Rose Garden press conference. Neither did Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx did wear masks.
“I’ve been tested, we’ve all been tested, and we’re quite a distance away. We’re outdoors, so I told them, I gave them the option, they can wear it or not,” Trump said when CNN asked why everyone was not wearing a mask at the event. “So you can blame it on me. … I gave them the option.”
Dr. Slaoui expressed optimism that the United States would be able to deliver millions of doses of the coronavirus vaccine by the end of 2020.
Trump said there is “no ego” in vaccine development across the world, and even if another country developed the first vaccine, America would mobilize quickly to distribute it.
The president also spoke about mobilizing the military to prepare to distribute therapeutics and diagnostics as well as a vaccine when it is available.
“When a vaccine is ready, the United States government will deploy every plane, truck, and soldier required to help distribute it to the American people as quickly as possible,” he said.