Donald Trump
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  • During an ABC News town hall on Tuesday night, US president Donald Trump touted herd immunity, but mistakenly referred to the controversial coronavirus strategy as "herd mentality."
  • "You'll develop like a herd mentality, it's going to be herd-developed, and that's going to happen," he said.
  • Herd immunity is when enough of a population is immune to a virus, interrupting its transmission. 
  • Health experts, however, have cautioned against this approach in the absence of a vaccine because it could cause hundreds-of-thousands more deaths.
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US President Donald Trump on Tuesday touted a controversial and potentially deadly strategy to combat the coronavirus pandemic — and misspoke while he was at it. 

"It would go away without the vaccine," Trump said about the disease during an ABC News town hall.

"Over a period of time, sure, with time, it goes away and you'll develop, you'll develop like a herd mentality, it's going to be herd-developed, and that's going to happen. That will all happen," he added.

Trump appeared to be talking about herd immunity, which occurs when enough of a population has developed resistance to a virus — whether through exposure or a vaccine — to interrupt. This method involves allowing the disease to spread through young and healthy people while protecting vulnerable groups like the elderly. 

Sweden adopted this approach and didn't shut down to curb the spread of the coronavirus. It wound up with far more deaths than neighboring countries that did enforce lockdowns.



Top health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, have strongly advised the Trump administration against the herd immunity strategy. 

"As you know, Dr. Fauci disagrees with that," ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos told Trump during the town hall.

"But a lot of people do agree with me. You look at Scott Atlas," Trump replied, referencing his new coronavirus adviser — who has no background in epidemiology or infectious diseases — and has reportedly pushed for implementing the idea. "Look at some of the other doctors, they think maybe we could have done that from the beginning." 

"But with a vaccine, I think it will go away very quickly, but I really believe we're rounding the corner," Trump added.

Trump also repeated several talking points on his coronavirus response when answering questions from voters. He claimed that the US has the highest caseload in the world because its testing rate outpaces other countries and insisted that he didn't downplay the severity of the disease despite admitting on tape to journalist Bob Woodward that he did exactly that.

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