During a town hall on ABC hosted by George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday, Donald Trump suggested another weird-sounding solution to the COVID-19 pandemic that has already killed more than 200,000 Americans since March.
And while it wasn’t quite suggesting that maybe injecting disinfectant into people’s lungs could cure the disease — something Trump really, actually did last spring — it was still something of a head-scratcher, for a second there anyway.
During the town hall, Trump declared that the virus would just somehow go away. “Without the vaccine?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Sure, over a period of time. Sure, with time it goes away,” Trump said.
“And many deaths,” Stephanopoulos replied. At which point Trump explained his theory. “And you’ll develop, you’ll develop herd — like a herd mentality. It’s going to be — it’s going to be herd developed — and that’s going to happen. That will all happen.”
Trump was likely referring to the concept of “herd immunity” and got tongue-tied. Herd immunity refers to the phenomenon that when a certain percentage of a population has either contracted a viral illness or has been vaccinated against it that it can no longer effectively spread and any outbreaks are extremely localized.
Herd mentality, meanwhile, refers to people adopting beliefs due to social pressure when they might make a different decision on their own.
Meanwhile, medical experts think it’s unlikely that herd immunity can be achieved without a vaccine — or severe loss of life. It’s estimated that to stem the spread of the virus, around 70% of the population would need to be exposed to COVID-19. And if that happens without a vaccine, it means all of those people would actually have to get sick. And given the current death rate for COVID-19, that means nearly 3 million Americans could be killed.
Watch the “herd mentality” clip below:
Q: It will go away without a vaccine?
TRUMP: Sure, over a period of time. You'll develop 'herd mentality."
This is crazy. pic.twitter.com/Z2bZZzsDet
— Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) September 16, 2020