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President Trump points to India’s “tremendous problem” with COVID-19

President Trump boards Air Force One for his return flight home from Tampa International Airport in Tampa, Fla. Friday, July 31, 2020, en route to Joint Base Andrews, Md. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)
Image credit: Joyce N. Boghosian, The White House from Washington, DC / Public domain

U.S. President Donald Trump has pointed to India as having a “tremendous problem” with the COVID-19 pandemic, in remarks issued at the White House earlier this week. President Trump favourably compared the performance of the United States in handling the pandemic with that of nations such as India and China, stating “I think we’re doing very well.”

Speaking at a White House briefing on Monday, August 3rd, President Trump answered a reporter’s question regarding Dr Deborah Birx, one of the leading voices in the White House’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “You said…that Dr. Birx was taking bait from [Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy] Pelosi,” the reporter asked. “What did you mean by that, considering that she was just describing the facts about the case of the pandemic right now across the country?”

In his response, President Trump asserted that “I think we’re doing very well, and I think that we have done as well as any nation. If you really look — if you take a look at what’s going on, especially now with all these flare-ups in nations that they were talking about — and don’t forget: We’re much bigger, other than India and China. China is having a massive flare-up right now. India has a tremendous problem. Other countries have problems.’

Monday saw India record more new cases of and deaths due to COVID-19 – the disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) or, simply, coronavirus – than any other country that day. India recorded 814 new fatalities and 49,134 new cases. Monday saw Brazil and the United States – the only countries to confirm more COVID-19 cases than India thus far – record 572 and 568 new deaths and 17,988 and 48,622 new cases respectively. Additionally, President Trump’s remarks came on the heels of India witnessing its deadliest week of the pandemic so far. Sunday marked the culmination of a week where 5,345 people lost their lives to COVID-19. 

Nonetheless, Brazil and the United States are still the top two countries in the world in terms of confirmed coronavirus infections. Brazil, at the time of writing, has confirmed 2,808,076 COVID-19 cases of which 741,213 are active. The United States has confirmed 4,919,116 cases, of which 2,275,564 are active. India, by comparison, has confirmed 1,910,795 cases of which 588,010 are active. It also trails Brazil and the United States in the number of deaths, having lost 39,856 lives to COVID compared to Brazil’s 96,096 and the United States’s 160,335. Both Mexico and the United Kingdom have recorded more fatalities than India due to COVID-19 at 48,869 and 46,299, respectively. This is according to data published by Worldometer. All figures are current at the time of publication. 

An article in The Washington Post characterised the comments made by President Trump as “[misleading].” In the piece, Annie Gearan wrote, regarding Trump’s assertion that “other countries have problems”, that “none is equal to the United States, which, with a little more than four percent of the global population, has clocked about a quarter of the world’s cases…the portrait is misleading at best, according to public health experts.”

Global COVID-19 cases stand at 18,735,734 at the time of writing. 11,947,478 people have recovered and 705,061 people have lost their lives. Active cases stand at 6,083,195.

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