'It is what it is': Donald Trump defends and denies severity of US Covid-19 deaths

4 August 2020, 10:13

Donald Trump continues to applaud his own success in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic
Donald Trump continues to applaud his own success in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. Picture: Axios

By Kate Buck

Donald Trump has defended more than 1,000 Americans a day dying from Covid-19, saying: "It is what it is".

The US President sat down with Axios reporter Jonathan Swan for a bizarre, rambling and at times off track interview, in which he continued to claim his Administration has done a "great job" with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The US is the worst affected nation in the world, suffering almost five million infections and over 155,000 deaths.

One of his top health officials Dr Deborah Birx this week warned 1,000 people will die each day in the coming weeks, a reality which Trump seemed keen to dismiss.

"They are dying, it's true, it is what it is," he said.

"But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. We have it under control as much as you can control it.

"This is a horrible plague that beset us."

Trump has repeatedly praised himself for the handling of the coronavirus pandemic
Trump has repeatedly praised himself for the handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: PA

When faced with the sheer numbers of dead in comparison with other nations, he tried to say this meant the death toll only represented a small proportion of the positive cases confirmed.

He even suggested South Korea - which has only suffered 300 deaths out of a population of 51 million - was not issuing the correct figures.

After being given a paper copy of the damning figures, Trump said: "United States is lowest in numerous categories, we're lower than the world.

"We're lower than Europe."

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After checking which figures Trump was looking at, Mr Swan clarified: "Oh, you’re doing death as a proportion of cases. I’m talking about death as a proportion of population.

"That’s where the U.S. is really bad. Much worse than South Korea, Germany."

Trump's history with the virus has been fraught with inconsistencies and contradictions on what Americans should and should not be doing
Trump's history with the virus has been fraught with inconsistencies and contradictions on what Americans should and should not be doing. Picture: PA

Scrambling for an answer, Trump told Mr Swan that "you have to go by the cases" and said population numbers should not be taken into account when looking at the figures.

Testing has been one of the biggest pillars of Trump's battle with Covid-19. He has repeatedly claimed that the huge numbers of infections is not down to the wide spread of the virus, but because of the numbers being tested.

So far around 60,000,000 tests have been carried out across the US.

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During his interview with Mr Swan he claimed: "There are those that say you can test too much, you do know that?”

But when pressed on who was saying that, Trump told the reporter to "read the manuals" and "read the books".

He never clarified who originally said his claim or where it was published.

Trump's history with the virus has been fraught with inconsistencies and contradictions on what Americans should and should not be doing.

Perhaps most notably, the US President at one point suggested people could inject themselves with disinfectant as a treatment for coronavirus.

As his Administration's health team advised people should be wearing face masks to stem the spread of the virus, Trump told Fox News: "I don’t agree with the statement that if everybody wear a mask everything disappears.”

But after facing increasing pressure to lead by example, Trump was eventually pictured in a mask for the first time in July.

In recent days, Trump has publicly clashed with his top infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci, who told Congress earlier this week that the huge rates of infection stems from a smaller economic shutdown and not enforcing stay-at-home orders.

But the President retweeted a video of Dr Fauci's testimony with the caption "Wrong!", again claiming the numbers were down to the testing.

Watch the full interview with Trump HERE.

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