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Trump claims US nearly at 15 percent COVID-19 immunity: 'That's a very powerful vaccine in itself'

President TrumpDonald TrumpFreedom Caucus member condemns GOP group pushing 'Anglo-Saxon political traditions' MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's new free speech site to ban certain curse words Secret Facebook groups of special operations officers include racist comments, QAnon posts: report MORE claimed on Tuesday that the U.S. was “close to 15 percent” immunity, appearing to support the idea of developing herd immunity to combat the coronavirus, an idea health experts have widely disputed as dangerous. 

During a press conference at the White House coronavirus summit, a reporter asked Trump what he would say to the American people in regards to the increasing number of cases. Trump responded by appearing to paint the high number of coronavirus infections in the U.S. in a positive light.

“I think that the vaccine was our goal. That was No. 1, because that was the way it ends,” said Trump. “Plus, you do have an immunity. You develop immunity over a period of time and I hear we’re close to 15 percent, I’m hearing that and that is terrific. That’s a very powerful vaccine in itself.”

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Herd immunity is a point at which a disease no longer spreads throughout a population because enough people have become immune to it through vaccination or infection.

The idea of reaching herd immunity was promoted by Scott AtlasScott AtlasDeSantis rips YouTube over removal of pandemic video Clyburn: Documents show Trump officials helped suppress coronavirus CDC reports Fauci defends Birx: 'She had to live in the White House' MORE, Trump’s former coronavirus adviser who resigned last week. Atlas is a neuroradiologist with no background in infectious diseases.

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Health experts, including those at Stanford University, where Atlas teaches, decried his promotion of this idea as dangerous, pointing out that many vulnerable people would have to die in theory for herd immunity to work.

The Washington Post notes that it is unclear where Trump got the 15 percent number, especially since the U.S. has surpassed 15 million coronavirus cases, making up less than 5 percent of the population.

It has not yet been proven that people develop an immunity to the coronavirus after becoming infected and cases of reinfections have been observed, often with more severe symptoms the second time around.

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health: NIH reverses Trump's ban on fetal tissue research | Biden investing .7B to fight virus variants | CDC panel to meet again Friday on J&J Fox News's Bret Baier posts vaccination selfie The Hill's 12:30 Report: Nearly half of U.S. adults partially or fully vaccinated MORE, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, has said that through the use of vaccinations, the U.S. could have herd immunity by the end of summer 2021.