US leading the world in COVID-19 testing, India second: Trump

Dr Fauci speaks to US President Donald Trump during a tour of the National Institutes of Health. Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters

Washington, Jul 22 (PTI) The US is leading the world in terms of COVID-19 testing and India is second, President Donald Trump has said while warning Americans that the pandemic may “get worse before it gets better.”

Over 140,000 Americans have died due to the coronavirus and 3.8 million have tested positive in the country. While the US economy is slowly coming back to normal, the pandemic is now spreading in many Sun Belt states, including in Arizona, Florida, Texas and parts of California.

“As one family, we mourn every precious life that’s been lost. I pledge in their honour that we will develop a vaccine and we will defeat the virus. We’re doing very well with vaccine development and therapeutic development, Trump said at a White House news conference on Tuesday, his first on coronavirus after several weeks.

His daily news conferences ended soon after he suggested in April that the virus might be treated by injecting disinfectant into people, for which he was scorned by doctors, scientists and political rivals.

Trump insisted the American response to the pandemic was “much better” than in other places. But he also warned that the disease could get worse in the coming days.

“It will probably unfortunately get worse before it gets better,” he said.

Cases are surging in several US states, particularly in southern states that were initially reluctant to enforce lockdowns or mandate the wearing of masks.

Florida is currently the epicentre of the US epidemic. In recent weeks, hospitals across Florida warned that their ICUs were at capacity and that they were unable to accept any new patients.

Trump said his administration will stop at nothing to save lives and shield the vulnerable.

We’ve learned so much about this disease. And we know who the vulnerable are, and we are going to indeed shield them, he said.

Trump assured that the vaccines against the novel coronavirus will be coming a lot sooner than expected.

Replying to a question, Trump said the US is leading the world” in terms of COVID-19 testing.

“We’re going to be over 50 million tests,” he said, adding that “second country is India with 12 million (tests). Then you have seven million, six million, and four million. I think that we are doing a tremendous amount of testing.

The “China virus”, Trump said, is a vicious and dangerous illness.

It’s a nasty, horrible disease that should heve never been allowed to escape China, but it did. It infected the world, and the world is suffering. But we’re going to get it taken care of, and we’re helping lots of other countries, the US president said.

On tackling the virus, Trump said his administration is developing a powerful strategy.

“We’ve learned a great deal about it (COVID-19) and who it targets. We are in the process of developing a strategy that’s going to be very, very powerful,” he said.

Some areas of our country are doing very well; others are doing less well. It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better, Trump said.

He said the median age of those who succumb to COVID-19 infection is 78 years, adding that roughly half of all deaths have been individuals in nursing homes or in long-term care.

Young adults may often have mild or even no symptoms. They won’t even know they’re sick. They won’t have any idea that they have a virus. They won’t have any idea at all, he said, adding that youth will act responsibly.

Trump said the data shows children have the lowest fatality risk as 99.96 per cent of all virus fatalities are adults.

By understanding these risk profiles and learning how to treat the disease, we’ve been able to greatly reduce mortality in the United States, Trump said.

Several treatments are already available in the US that can significantly reduce the severity and duration of the disease, he said.

We’ve learned best practices for treatment of the virus at every stage and have shared these findings with medical providers, and we’ve shared them all over the world. The relationship with other countries has been very strong. We’re all working together,” Trump said.

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