Donald Trump insists that the anti-covid vaccines developed under his watch are saving lives. He went so far as to say, in response to pushback from Candace Owens, that “the ones who get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don’t take the vaccine. . .and if you take the vaccine, you’re protected.” He added, “people aren’t dying when they take the vaccine.”
Trump overstates his case, as usual. The vaccines don’t provide absolute protection against hospitalization and death. Fully vaccinated people have died. In fact, the vaccines are somewhat less effective than many of us hoped.
Still, Trump is right that the vaccines save lives. And I’m glad he pushes back against anti-vaxxers among his core supporters, even at the cost of being booed, while at the same time affirming that people have the right to chose whether to be vaccinated.
I suspect that Trump defends the vaccines so vigorously because of his role in their development. He views the vaccines as a remarkable accomplishment for which he deserves great credit. As he said to Owens:
I came up with a vaccine with three vaccines. All are very, very good. Came up with three of them in less than nine months. It was supposed to take five to 12 years.
Again, Trump overstates his case. He did not come up with vaccines. Pharmaceutical companies came up with them. And the idea that it might take up to twelve years to develop them given the stakes is wildly implausible.
Still, Trump deserves credit for facilitating the vaccines and for the fact that they were developed more quickly than expected. And the fact that Trump pushed so hard for the prompt development and distribution of the vaccines shows that he believed strongly in them, and isn’t just touting them now to promote his legacy.
Even so, I can’t help but wonder whether, if the vaccines had been developed during Joe Biden’s presidency, and if Trump were planning to challenge Biden in 2024, he would be speaking so highly of the vaccines. I suspect that, instead, he would be right there with Candace Owens and other conservatives who downplay their effectiveness.
With Trump, it’s always about Trump, not necessarily about the objective world. Or so it seems to me.