Speaking at an ABC town hall event, Trump repeated his claim that the virus was going away.
“It’s probably gonna go away now a lot faster because of the vaccine,” he said. “It would go away without the vaccine.”
Host George Stephanopoulos seemed incredulous by that comment.
“It would go away without the vaccine?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Sure,” Trump replied. “Over a period of time. Sure, with time.”
“And many deaths,” Stephanopoulos said.
“You’ll develop like a herd mentality,” Trump explained. “It’s gonna be herd-developed and that’s gonna happen.”
Pres. Trump says COVID-19 will go away even without a vaccine in part because of ... “herd mentality.” pic.twitter.com/PhrU06GJJo
— The Recount (@therecount) September 16, 2020
Herd mentality is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the tendency of the people in a group to think and behave in ways that conform with others in the group rather than as individuals.”
Herd immunity is when enough people are immune to a virus that it’s no longer able to effectively spread. It can happen either from a vaccine or from so many people getting sick that the virus runs out of people to infect.
Last month, The Washington Post estimated that a herd immunity strategy without a vaccine would lead to nearly 3 million deaths in the United States.
Twitter users were stunned by both Trump’s inability to tell the difference as well as the idea that the president may be entertaining herd immunity as a public health strategy: