According to a new book authored by journalist Bob Woodward, US president Donald Trump knew about the deadly nature of the novel coronavirus infection much before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11. The audio recordings of Trump’s interview with Woodward, which were published in the Washington Post on September 9, Wednesday, reveal that he deliberately downplayed the seriousness of the disease in public.
According to the book entitled Rage, scheduled to be out on September 15, Trump got his briefing on the deadly nature of the disease from his national security advisor on January 28. In his telephonic conversation with Woodward on February 7, Trump had admitted that COVID-19 was “more deadly than your strenuous flu.”
Despite getting repeated warnings from his intelligence agencies in February, Trump tried to downplay the threat in public in order to avoid panic, the book claims. In an interview with Fox News on February 2, Trump had claimed that America had successfully checked the virus’ spread from China.
On February 27, he publicly claimed that the virus is going to disappear one day. Trump also tried to force states to reopen the economy and lift the lockdowns imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, when the number of infections and deaths were going up.
It is widely believed that the deliberate downplaying of the seriousness of the situation delayed the implementation of necessary measures to control the outbreak in the US. Failure to contain the outbreak in time has made the US the worst-affected country in the world today with over 190,000 deaths and over 6.3 million infections. The delay in taking effective measures also impacted the US economy in an unprecedented manner, with high unemployment rates and an estimated 32% annual contraction in its GDP.
Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic rival for the post of president in the November elections, said in a tweet that had Trump acted on time, thousands of lives would have been saved in the country.
Trump meanwhile, has tried to put all of the blame for the COVID-19 outbreak and the consequent health and economic crisis on China and the WHO. He has alleged that China deliberately hid the seriousness of the disease, causing unpreparedness in other countries’ responses.
Trump also alleged that WHO had delayed the dissemination of information about the disease in order to cover up for China. He accused the WHO of mismanagement of the crisis and stopped American funding to the UN body in May. The Trump administration also gave a notice for the withdrawal of US membership from the WHO in early July.
Courtesy: Peoples Dispatch