U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he now believes as many as 100,000 Americans could die in the coronavirus pandemic, after the death toll passed his earlier estimates, but said he was confident a vaccine would be developed by the year’s end.
Trump alternated his evaluation when recently on Friday had said he hoped fewer than 100,000 Americans would die and earlier in the week had talked about 60,000 to 70,000 deaths.
In another assessment that clashes with those of some public health experts, Trump said he believed that by the end of the year there would be a vaccine against COVID-19.
“I think we’re going to have a vaccine by the end of the year. The doctors would say, well you shouldn’t say that” Trump said. “I’ll say what I think … I think we’ll have a vaccine sooner than later.”
Many health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, have cautioned that a vaccine is likely a year to 18 months away.
Trump also said he wanted students to return to schools and colleges in the autumn, even as he acknowledged the possibility of a resurgence of the disease.
Speaking the day before the Senate returns to Washington, Trump said it was possible that federal coronavirus aid could rise to $6 trillion (£4.8 trillion) from the nearly $3 trillion Congress has already passed to try to ease the heavy economic toll of the crisis.
Democrats have made clear they want to provide a sizable rescue package for state and local governments as part of a broader bill – one that could total over $2 trillion – while some Republicans criticized the idea as unreasonably expensive.
Trump, who has been criticized for not moving faster early in the year to stop the spread of the disease, sought to blunt the criticism by blaming China.
Trump said China had made a “horrible mistake” without saying precisely what this was or providing specific evidence for his assertion.
Earlier in the day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there was “a significant amount of evidence” that COVID-19 emerged from a Chinese laboratory, but did not dispute US intelligence agencies’ conclusion that it was not man-made.
According to the latest figures published by Johns Hopkins University, 3,502,126 cases have been detected worldwide, with 247,107 deaths and 1,124,127 people now recovering.
In the USA, there have been 1,154,621 cases with 67,498 deaths. 180,152 people have recovered from the virus.