Trump’s wispy lights in the time of Corona

Trump's wispy lights in the time of Corona

© Photo: Alex Brandon / AP / dpa
Donald Trump at a press conference in the White House.

In a crisis, the vast majority of Americans expect leadership from their president and well-considered recommendations for action.

His word is particularly important in the event of a crisis – even for people who have not elected the head of state and reject his policies. But US President Donald Trump initially denied the danger posed by the corona virus for weeks – contrary to the advice of his experts. When he could no longer ignore the pandemic, he excelled with pseudo-medical advice – some questionable, others potentially life-threatening.

No panic, we have it under control

Trump wants to be re-elected in November. In January and February, he promised his voters growth, jobs and record prices on the stock exchange. Even after the first cases were confirmed, he did not want to know about a crisis: the number of infections would be “zero in a few days,” he said at a press conference. “The risk to people in America remains very low,” he said – despite an urgent warning from the CDC health agency. Instead of making preparations, Trump opted for the all-clear.

There are now over 1.1 million known infections in the United States, a country with around 330 million inhabitants – this corresponds to roughly one in three infections worldwide. More than 65,000 people have died as a result of an infection – a number that Trump had issued as a ceiling in mid-April. He now speaks of up to 100,000 dead – and boasts that his government prevented worse things.


Dear Americans, do not be afraid, but go about your normal life so that the economy continues to flourish – that seemed to be Trump’s message until the beginning of March. “It’s a bit like the normal flu we have flu shots for,” Trump said. There will also be a vaccination for this soon. Although the U.S. government has largely banned entry from China, the country of origin of the pandemic, Trump continued to talk down the threat. The flu also kills thousands every year, but the lives of most Americans are unaffected, he said.

Warnings from experts that the new pathogen Sars-CoV-2 appears to be much more dangerous than normal flu and that there can be no vaccination before next year, however, went unheeded. The high number of victims speaks for itself. For example, according to one study, from February to mid-April in New York, about 21 times more people died from Covid-19, a lung disease caused by the virus, than would otherwise die from the flu in the same period. When freezer trucks were used to store the many corpses and mass graves were excavated, Trump no longer spoke of the flu, but of a “terrible plague”.


The virus will simply disappear “like a miracle”, Trump said at the beginning of the crisis. As soon as the weather got warmer and wetter, the pathogen, like the seasonal flu, would simply vanish into thin air, he has maintained since then. According to experts, however, there is as yet no evidence that the coronavirus behaves like the flu in this regard. In addition, the virus has already spread to places with warmer and humid climates, such as Brazil or Singapore.


In March, Trump campaigned for a malaria drug to treat Covid 19 patients almost every day. Hydroxychloroquine is a “gift from God,” he enthused. Warnings from his experts that the effectiveness of the drug has not been proven in studies and that the use of an already approved drug for another purpose always poses a hazard, he ignored. “What do you have to lose?” he asked repeatedly. In combination with the antibiotic azithromycin, the drug “could be one of the greatest breakthroughs in the history of medicine,” Trump said. “And if it doesn’t go as planned, it won’t kill anyone,” he said.

Despite the warnings from experts, the number of prescriptions for the drug in the United States then rose 46-fold, as an analysis by the “New York Times” showed. Google searches for buying opportunities went through the roof, according to a study. At the end of April, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned of the alleged miracle cure: There is no evidence of effectiveness against Covid-19, but the medication increased the risk of life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. Previously, a study found higher mortality when taking the medication.


Trump suggested in early April that researchers need to develop better antibiotics to stop the virus. “The pathogen has become so ingenious that the antibiotics can no longer keep up,” said Trump. That is now “one of the biggest problems in the world,” he said. However, antibiotics only work against bacteria, not against viruses. Trump’s impression that antibiotics could work against the corona virus is therefore nonsense. When antibiotics are given to Covid patients, the goal is to prevent or treat simultaneous bacterial infections.


Under pressure from health officials, the U.S. government has been recommending wearing everyday masks over the mouth and nose since early April. Trump introduced the recommendation at his then-daily Corona press conference – and immediately undermined the message. “It is voluntary,” he said. “I decided not to do it.” His vice mike Mike Pence also recently wore no mask when visiting a clinic – although this was mandatory.

“Refusing to wear a mask is dangerous and disrespectful,” Craig Spencer, a senior medical officer at Columbia University in New York, said on Twitter. Spencer called for better leadership in the corona crisis: “We do poorly when politicians act as health experts.”

Bleach or disinfectant as a solution?

At the end of April, Trump’s pseudo-medical game of thoughts finally led to an outcry across the country: The President speculated whether direct injection of bleach or disinfectant into the body could not be a good coronavirus therapy. It is up to doctors to check that, he said. “But it sounds interesting to me,” he said in the White House.

Experts were horrified because an injection or swallowing of bleach and disinfectants can be life-threatening. Health agencies across the country have issued warnings. Poison control centers reported an increase in emergency calls related to cleaning agents. The manufacturers of the funds also issued drastic warnings. Faced with outrage, Trump claimed the day after that his suggestions were “sarcasm.”

Will there be a second wave of infections in the fall?

Trump is allergic to questions about a second wave of the virus in the fall or winter. The pathogen will soon be “eradicated,” Trump said on Wednesday. If there were any single infections (“embers”), they would be brought under control quickly. However, his medical advisor, immunologist Anthony Fauci, warned: “We’ll have coronavirus in the fall, I’m sure of it.” Because of the easy portability and the global nature of the virus, this is “inevitable,” said Fauci. Without vaccination there can be no return to normal.


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