US President Donald Trump has predicted 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the country and a vaccine to be ready by the end of the year, contradicting experts who said a cure is likely 18 months away.
Trump relaunched his election campaign on Sunday, forecasting an “incredible” future as he alternated during a two-hour Fox News broadcast between predicting a rapid recovery for the US economy and casting blame for the pandemic’s spread on China, where the disease is believed to have originated.
COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, has infected more than 1.1 million and killed more than 67,000 in the United States, shut wide swaths of society, including most schools and many businesses.
“We’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to a 100,000 people. That’s a horrible thing,” said Trump.
As recently as Friday, he 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.
About half of the states in the US have now moved towards at least partial lifting of lockdowns as the number of new cases started to drop or level off and as citizens agitate for relief from restrictions that have sent the economy into a tailspin.
“We can’t stay closed as a country [or] we’re not gonna have a country left,” Trump said.