San Francisco doctor fact checks President Trump's COVID-19 press conference

ByAlix Martichoux KGO logo
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
SF doctor fact checks Trump's COVID-19 claims
President Donald Trump returned to hold a coronavirus press conference Tuesday, where he discussed vaccine trials and face masks. We asked an expert to fact check some of the president's claims.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- After a bit of a hiatus from coronavirus press briefings, President Donald Trump returned with an update Tuesday. While he remained upbeat, the president struck a more somber tone than he has in the past.

We asked ABC7 News contributor Dr. Alok Patel to fact check some of the president's claims.

"We are not doing well in terms of controlling what we need to be doing, but that seems to be a talking point that keeps being returned," he said.

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As the United States approaches 4 million known coronavirus cases, Patel notes, "We're still losing hundreds of people every day from the coronavirus,"

He went on to say, "The weather did not control the virus, we don't have outpatient treatments for the virus, people are still spreading it, the mixed messages regarding masks - everything is still contributing to the fact that we are not winning right now."

On the subject of vaccines, Trump promised things were moving along smoothly. "The vaccines are coming, and they're coming a lot sooner than anybody thought possible," the president said.

As early as next week, the first possible U.S. vaccine is set to begin final-stage testing in a study of 30,000 people to see if it really is safe and effective. A few other vaccines have begun smaller late-stage studies in other countries, and in the U.S. a series of huge studies are planned to start each month through fall in hopes of, eventually, having several vaccines to use. Already, people can start signing up to volunteer for the different studies.

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"The average vaccine takes a decade or longer," said Patel, saying we're currently on track to shatter records for how quickly a vaccine can be developed.

But health authorities warn there's no guarantee -- it's not unusual for vaccines to fail during this critical testing step. But vaccine makers and health officials are hopeful that at least one vaccine could prove to work by year's end. Companies already are taking the unusual step of brewing hundreds of millions of doses so that mass vaccinations could begin if the Food and Drug Administration signs off.

"We could see a working vaccine by September. But a working vaccine doesn't mean a vaccine that's ready for national distribution," he added. Any vaccine would likely be prioritized for health care workers, high-risk individuals and frontline workers.

On Tuesday, Trump encouraged Americans to wear masks where social distancing is not possible.

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"I'm getting used to the mask," he said, pulling one out from his pocket, after months of suggesting that mask-wearing was a political statement against him. Experts have been combatting misleading White House messaging on face coverings for months, advising people to wear them to protect themselves and others from the virus.

And while the president sought to paint a rosier picture of the coronavirus for the nation Tuesday, he conceded the pandemic is likely to get worse before it gets better. On that point, Dr. Patel agrees.

Watch more of our interview with Dr. Patel in the video player at the top of this story.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.