There's a Reason Why Trump Keeps Telling Voters He's Immune to COVID-19

Early in the final debate, President Trump made a comment, almost an aside, about his personal battle with COVID-19 that the media have largely ignored but that could have considerable impact on the election results.

"I got better very fast," Trump said, "and now they say I'm immune.  Whether it's four months or a lifetime, nobody's been able to say that, but I'm immune."

The next night at a rally at The Villages, a Florida retirement community, Trump reiterated his claim that his medical team has declared him immune to COVID.  From that day on, Trump has repeated this message to rally audiences in North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Nebraska and to the millions of voters watching the rallies nationally.

"But the fact is, I had it.  It worked out well.  Now I'm immune," Trump declared to an Ohio audience.

At rally after rally, amid seemingly innocuous personal anecdotes about his recovery from the disease, Trump weaves an unspoken message that subtly undermines his opponent even without directly mentioning him: President Trump is immune to COVID-19, and Joe Biden is not.

In the final days of the campaign, Trump is prodding voters to ask themselves a question: which candidate do you believe has the best chance of surviving COVID-19 should he contract this pernicious virus during his presidency?

The answer can favor only Trump.  Recently, Trump was successfully treated for the disease at Walter Reed Hospital over a 72-hour period with innovative drugs and technologies.  Within a week, doctors detected in Trump's body COVID-killing anti-bodies that epidemiologists link to future disease immunity.

In a New York Times article, epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch and immunologist Dr. Michael Mina, both of Harvard, emphatically stated that once a person has successfully fought the coronavirus, the acquired antibodies make him virtually immune to reinfection.

University of Arizona immunologist Deepta Bhattacharya's just released study of 6,000 COVID cases revealed that immunity to COVID-19 lasts for at least several months post-COVID-19 infection.  Co-researcher Michael D. Dake, M.D., stated that this research "has armed us with the knowledge that lasting immunity is a reality."

In contrast, Joe Biden is as susceptible to COVID-19 as anyone who has not already contracted the disease.  This vulnerability has led Biden and his campaign team to limit mass political rallies and interaction with constituents, politicians, and the media.  One reason the Commission on Presidential Debates canceled the second debate was Biden's expressed anxiety about appearing in person out of fear of contracting the disease.

If elected president, will Biden's fear of contracting the virus hamper his ability to meet with constituents and members of Congress or visit states after a hurricane or forest fire?  Is Joe Biden going to shy away from meeting with world leaders while Chinese trade and political officials travel from country to country, continent to continent, establishing global trade networks and military alliances?

Since some in the Biden camp believe that the White House itself is not a safe haven from COVID-19, Joe Biden and members of his Cabinet and staff would be paralyzed, trying to run the Executive Branch as Biden ran his campaign, via Zoom from a basement bunker.

If Americans elect Joe Biden president, they can look forward to checking their news feeds daily to see if Biden, plagued with a history of heart irregularities and brain aneurisms, has finally contracted the coronavirus.  Throughout Joe Biden's presidency, other national concerns will take a back seat to the ongoing focus on his physical status.

Democrats certainly seem to share these concerns.  House speaker Nancy Pelosi last week called for the creation of an Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity empowered to set in motion the 25th Amendment process of removing from office a sitting president deemed unable to serve in office due to physical or mental disability.  Pelosi made clear that "[t]his is not about President Trump."  We must "create a process for future presidents," Pelosi said, leading some in the media to wonder whether Biden is the "future president" she has in mind.

Biden's fear of catching the coronavirus is clearly a motivating factor in his stated intention, repeated during the recent debate, to shut down a large swath of the nation's schools, businesses, sports arenas, restaurants, and theaters "until we get the virus under control."  In doing so, Biden will be flouting the recommendations laid out in the Great Barrington Declaration, authored by infectious disease experts from Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford and signed by 2,300 medical and health scientists and 2,500 practitioners and other top epidemiologists.

The Declaration is quite clear: because COVID-based lockdowns cause nations to suffer irreparable economic, mental, and physical harm, governments must permit citizens to live their lives normally while protecting the most vulnerable.  The World Health Organization now supports the declaration's no-lockdown position.  And American voters by a ratio of 3 to 1 are adamantly against such lockdowns.

President Trump, fresh from his successful fight against COVID, presents a more optimistic and balanced pandemic strategy closely aligned with recommendations from the scientific community.  Trump wants to open up America's schools and businesses while insulating the susceptible, deliver new COVID vaccines to all Americans in the next month or so, and make available to COVID patients the same drugs and therapies that facilitated Trump's lightning-fast recovery.

The media's 24/7 focus on COVID-19 will only further encourage American voters to more deeply scrutinize each candidate's vulnerability to this disease.

As Election Day nears, expect President Trump to continue to press the idea that he has achieved immunity to COVID-19, and that, by inference, Biden hasn't.

Joe Biden did not refute Trump's claims of COVID immunity on the debate stage Thursday evening, nor has he done so since.  One would think the Biden team would be trying to counteract Trump's messaging about immunity.  Instead, Biden's decision to isolate himself from the press and public for much of the remainder of the campaign only reinforces the public's anxiety about Biden's susceptibility to the disease.

Since the Thursday presidential debate, Trump appears to be surging in North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Arizona, and other key battleground states.  If even a small proportion of undecided voters in these states choose Trump over Biden due to Trump's perceived immunity to COVID-19, Biden and his team will forever regret failing to address this critical issue.

Sociologist Michael G. Zey, Ph.D is the author of Ageless Nation, Seizing the Future, The Future Factor.  Prof., Montclair State University (ret.).

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

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