The US president’s comments came in a Fox News virtual Town Hall on Sunday evening, when the US president fielded questions from viewers.
“We’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people. That’s a horrible thing, we shouldn’t lose one person over this,” Mr Trump said while sat inside the Lincoln Memorial.
“This should have been stopped in China. It should have been stopped. But if we didn’t do it, the minimum we would have lost is a million-two, a million-four, million-five that’s the minimum. We would have lost probably higher, it’s possible, higher than 2.2.”
Asked by Fox News’ Bret Baier why he had revised his death toll prediction upwards — he had claimed no more than 70,000 deaths until Sunday — Mr Trump said: “I used to say 65,000, and now I’m saying 80 or 90, and it goes up and it goes up rapidly, but it’s still going to be no matter how you look at it at the very lower end of the plane if we did the shut down.”
The comments came just hours after Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, told Fox News the administration’s projection had “always been between 100,000 and 240,000 American lives lost”.
As of Sunday, there have been more than 68,000 confirmed deaths of people in the US who have contracted coronavirus.
Asked later about treatments for Covid-19, Mr Trump said: “We are very confident that we’re going to have a vaccine at the end of the year, by the end of the year, have a vaccine.
He added: “Many companies are I think close, because I meet with the heads of them, and I find it a very interesting subject, because it’s so important, but I think we’ll have a vaccine by the end of the year.”
Pressed on his prediction, Mr Trump said doctors would admonish him for saying so, but that he will “say what I think”.
“I’ve met with the heads of the big companies, these are great companies,” he said. ”Yeah, I think we’re going to have a vaccine much sooner rather than later.”
When asked if the vaccine would need to be designed in the US, Mr Turmp said: “We have to get a vaccine. Whoever gets it, I’m gonna be, I’m gonna be their best fan in it, I want it, I need the vaccine, we need, this country needs the vaccine, and you’re gonna have it by the end of the year.”
The president’s comments come amid an unprecedented national effort, dubbed Operation Warp Speed, to produce a vaccine by the year’s end.
The programme will pull together private drugs companies, government agencies and the US military in a bid to cut the development time from years to as little as eight months, Bloomberg reported.
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