Trump says PM’s initial coronavirus response could have caused ‘a lot of death’
- Credit: AP
Donald Trump said he had concerns about Boris Johnson's initial response to the coronavirus - claiming it could have been 'very catastrophic' until he changed tack.
The US president suggested the prime minister had looked to 'ride out' the virus in an approach that would have caused 'a lot of death'.
The G7 ally's comments come after the UK saw its biggest day-on-day rise on Wednesday in the number of deaths since the outbreak began - up 563 on the 24 hours previously to a total of 2,352.
Trump's press conference criticism appeared to be a reference to the UK government following a plan for so-called 'herd immunity'.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK's chief scientific adviser, told the BBC on March 13 that the 'aim' was to 'not suppress (coronavirus) completely... to build up some kind of herd immunity so more people are immune to this disease', while still reducing the peak number of infections to protect the NHS.
You may also want to watch:
The concept would have seen the elderly and vulnerable sheltered from Covid-19 but those deemed fit would have been permitted to contract the illness in a bid to build up nationwide immunity from the killer bug.
But a week after the position was pushed in broadcast interviews, Johnson, who last week tested positive for coronavirus, opted to put the UK on lockdown after seeing expert modelling predicting Britain was on course to lose 250,000 people during the pandemic unless stringent measures were taken.
- 1 Jacob Rees-Mogg says it's 'all the EU's fault' musicians can't tour Europe
- 2 Susanna Reid takes on Priti Patel over government's gaslighting of public on coronavirus
- 3 Piers Morgan tells Gavin Williamson to resign for being a 'catastrophe'
- 4 Tory minister admits UK rejected EU's music visa offer in order to 'take back control' of borders
- 5 Bob Geldof takes swipe at No 10 saying 'lying is second nature' to them
- 6 Tory MP complains 'less scrutiny of trade deals' than when UK was in EU
- 7 The greatest failure of government in our lifetime
- 8 Comedian wins praise after shaming No 10 during Dancing on Ice appearance
- 9 No 10 says Biden removing Churchill bust ‘up to president’ despite Obama attack
- 10 Who's on the BBC's Question Time tonight?
Speaking during a two-hour White House briefing on Tuesday, Trump said: 'A lot of people were saying, 'Let's just ride it out'.
'This is not to be ridden out. Then you would have been looking at 2.2 million people (dying) in a relatively short period of time.
'If you remember, they were looking at that concept - I guess it is a concept, if you don't mind death, a lot of death.
'But they were looking at that concept in the UK, remember? They were very much looking at it.
'All of a sudden they went hard the other way because they started seeing things that weren't good. They put themselves in a little bit of a problem.
'Now Boris has tested positive and I hear - I hope - he's going to be fine.
'But in the UK they were looking at that - they have a name for it but we won't even go by the name - (and) it would have been very catastrophic I think if that had happened.'
The Republican president said 'doing nothing' to tackle coronavirus could cost as many as 2.2 million lives in the United States, rather than the estimated 100,000 to 200,000 currently predicted to die, even with social distancing measures in place until April 30.
The PM, however, is not the only leader to change his approach to tackling coronavirus.
Only a little over a week ago, the president vowed 'never to turn the country off' and said the Covid-19 death toll was unlikely to be worse than for flu.
But he told reporters on Tuesday that coronavirus was 'probably the worst thing the country has ever seen' and predicted worse casualties than in the First World War for the US.
Asked by reporters whether he planned to travel while the Stateside restrictions were in force, the 73-year-old said he would be remaining in Washington, highlighting Johnson's development of the illness.
Trump said: 'I'd love to go out but no, I'll be in the White House.
'I think it is important - you saw what happened with Boris Johnson, you've seen what happened with others.
'I think it is important that I remain healthy, I really do.'
Become a Supporter
The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.