“The vaccines do work. And they are effective. So here’s my thing: I think I saved millions and millions of lives around the world,” Mr Trump said on the John Fredricks Show, reported The Washington Post.
“We would have had another Spanish flu,” the former president said, claiming that his administration paved the way for Covid-19 vaccines.
He added that he knows many people personally who succumbed to the viral contagion but his administration played a role in making the Covid-19 vaccines available earlier than expected.
“And now countries are using our vaccines, and it’s tremendous. It’s tremendously successful,” Mr Trump said on the conservative talk radio show.
The former president’s governance came under heavy criticism for its poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic which battered the US last year, with the rampage continuing till March-April this year. On the day Mr Trump exited presidential office, the Covid-19 American fatalities were more than 400,000. For weeks on end, Mr Trump denied presenting a strategy to fight the infectious disease, suggesting that it would just disappear.
He also backed medically unproven solutions and drugs like hydroxychloroquine for treatment of Covid-19. Wearing a face mask was another strict mandate he junked for a significant period of time.
Mr Trump later claimed that he dialled down his response in those crucial months to avoid a “frenzy.”
Holding back on mandating vaccines, Mr Trump said, “I’m very proud of it. I saved millions of lives but — people have to have their freedom.”
He said: “I love our people, so I want our people to take the vaccines. But at the same time, I have to tell you, you can’t mandate it. You can’t force it. And I don’t think it’s going to be necessary because this thing is going to eventually go away.”
This is the second such instance in the last 10 days when the former president has nudged people towards getting vaccinated. Last month, he was booed by crowds in Alabama at his “Save America” rally when he recommended they get vaccinated against Covid.
“I believe totally in your freedoms, I do, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. But I recommend take the vaccines,” Mr Trump had told his supporters.
Mr Trump, who was vaccinated at the White House in January 2021, told the crowd: “If it doesn’t work you’ll be the first to know,” to a ripple of laughter.
Experts have pointed out that the resistance towards vaccines is being seen among people who supported Mr Trump, who had not publicly championed the Covid-19 vaccines as a public health necessity.
After barely a gap of three months, the cases fuelled by the Delta variant have started surging again with the Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky being the most affected areas.
The Biden administration has termed the recent spike in infections as the “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” garnering flak for the phrase from Republicans and experts.
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