Coronavirus: What Trump’s Been Accused Of (And Why It’s Nonsense)

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to stay on top of the news in the current climate. Every day there’s a new story about COVID-19, and along with that new story, there appears to be a new set of draconian measures aimed at ensuring we stay at home, we don’t interact with each other, and the economy grinds to a halt. The relative merits of these restrictions and bans will be discussed and already have been discussed elsewhere on this website, but this isn’t an article about those new rules. This is an article about something entirely different.

If you don’t read mainstream or left-leaning news outlets (and who could blame you), you might have missed a lot of people becoming enraged by a suggestion that President Donald Trump tried to buy a promising coronavirus vaccine from Germany, with the intention of keeping it and using it for American citizens only. Along with the suggestion that he was trying to buy another country’s work, there were also some suggestions that he may also have subsequently charged other countries if they wanted to use it on their own citizens if it proved to be successful.

The story ticks a lot of the stereotypical boxes when it comes to how non-Trump supporters see the President. They believe he’s self-interested and racist. Buying a vaccine that could save millions of lives and then refusing to use it to help the rest of the world would tick both of those boxes, and also helpfully also tick the box that says Trump is a crooked businessman who thinks that everything has a price, and that money can get you anywhere. Those distortions of the President’s character have never been accurate, but of all the nonsensical stories that have published about him in the past, this one makes the least sense – and we have several good reasons why.

First and foremost, buying the vaccine out from underneath the Germans isn’t what Trump was actually trying to do. He didn’t try to buy the vaccine, and he had no intention of keeping any vaccine for Americans only. What he wanted – or more likely, what he’d been advised to seek – was access to the research that German scientists had performed so far. Every major nation in the world is currently trying to synthesize an effective vaccine, and America is included in that number. What Trump really wanted was access to the German findings so they could be used to support American efforts to come up with a vaccine as quickly as possible. Any knowledge is good knowledge when it comes to fighting COVID-19, and the more information the country’s best brains have to work with, the faster a reliable treatment can be found.

There’s no particular evidence that the Germans are ahead of the USA when it comes to developing a vaccine, and there’s definitely no evidence that they have a working vaccine already. Instead of thinking of it as buying a vaccine, think of the whole process of buying a vaccine in the same way you’d think of the process of trying to win money from politcal slot games. If you’ve ever spent money on one before, you’ll know that the majority of online slots games only pay anything at all if you have the right symbols on the right reels at the right time. Because the symbols are generated randomly, you lose at online slots more often than you win. You must have to hope that the wins make up for the losses when they do come. Right now, every country in the world is spinning the reels of science, hoping that when they land, they’ll have come up with the perfect vaccine or treatment, but nobody has yet hit the jackpot. Trump is just trying to lower the odds of the breakthrough happening in America. If we stick with the online slots metaphor, he’s trying to nudge the reels to see what’s on the next row—nothing more, nothing less.

The President makes no secret of the fact that he has an ‘America First’ philosophy. It’s what got him elected in the first place. It’s what will get him elected again at the end of this year, presuming the elections happen on schedule in light of the current crisis. It’s highly likely that he’ll want to take care of American citizens before he tries to take care of the world at large, and every self-respecting leader of every other sovereign nation would do the same. If a vaccine becomes available, expect the leader of the country it emerges from to provide it to their own citizens before they distribute it internationally. That’s good leadership, but it’s also the only way to ensure that the vaccine is effective enough to work elsewhere, and on a large scale.

Beyond that, it wouldn’t make any sense for Trump to pay for or create a vaccine, but not to allow the rest of the world any access to it. ‘The rest of the world’ includes all of our country’s biggest trading partners. America takes great pride in being largely self-sufficient, but there are still various products and services that it imports from abroad. Without foreign trade, the economy would be dealt a severe blow, and the entire nation would be weakened as a result. America needs its allies to be healthy and working in order to carry on buying American goods and selling goods that America wants and needs. It therefore wouldn’t make any sense whatsoever for Donald Trump – or any other leader – to deny anybody access to a vaccine that would save lives on an industrial scale.

This isn’t the first utterly fabricated story that has been circulated about the activities of the President, and it won’t be the last. It is, however, probably the most ridiculous and the most poorly thought out. Yet again, we’ve been shown that there are no lengths that Donald Trump’s enemies won’t go to in order to try to paint him in a negative light – even when, in doing so, the only light they shine is on their own ignorance and lack of logic.

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