Donald Trump defends US’ testing, cites India’s handling of coronavirus

Updated on Aug 05, 2020 09:39 PM IST

“India has 1.4 billion people, they have 11 million tests,” Trump said, to contrast the 60 million tests in the United States with a population of 330 million.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a signing ceremony for H.R. 1957, the Great American Outdoors Act, in the East Room of the White House in Washington.(Bloomberg)
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a signing ceremony for H.R. 1957, the Great American Outdoors Act, in the East Room of the White House in Washington.(Bloomberg)
Hindustan Times, Washington | ByYashwant Raj | Edited by Arpan Rai

President Donald Trump on Tuesday used India’s statistics on testing coronavirus disease to defend his handling of the Covid-19 epidemic in the United States and said that the former country is having a “tremendous problem” battling the disease.

The US president brought up India’s Covid-19 tests, as he has many times before, his administration’s better testing record as he battles widespread criticism of his handling of the epidemic, marked by abject denial of the threat, underplaying the magnitude of the crisis and being dismissive of social distancing norms advocated his own public health officials and member his of task force.

“India has 1.4 billion people, they have 11 million tests,” he said, to contrast the 60 million tests in the United States with a population of 330 million.

“I think we’re doing very well. 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 and nations that they were talking about,” Trump said.

Statistically, the United States has conducted most Covid-19 tests but experts suggest that it should carry out more tests as the country has already clocked 4.7 million infections and 155,000 fatalities, a quarter of the global count.

The president has used either outdated numbers of Indian testing. India had conducted nearly 18 million tests by July 28, when the Axios interview was recorded, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research, the official tracker. The 20 million mark was crossed on Sunday.

Trump had used the same figures — of 60 million for the US and 11 million for India — at a news briefing last Friday, which did not tally what the White House said later. In a statement issued in support of Trump’s claims of better testing, the White House had said, “India has a population more than four times as large as the United States, but has only conducted around one-third of the number of tests.”

In a periodic attack, the president also attacked China for the epidemic. “This was sent to us by China, one way or the other,” he said of the virus, which was first detected in Wuhan, China last December. “And we are never going to forget it. believe me, we are never going to forget it.”

Trump brought up India-China clashes to show he takes his intelligence briefings — called the President’s Daily Brief (PBD) — seriously, and that he reads them and, he insisted, comprehends them “better” than a lot of people.

The interviewer had asked about it in the context of information that was reported to have been cited in a February PBD that Russians were offering bounty to Taliban fighters for killing American forces in Afghanistan. Trump has insisted that information never reached him, and also that it was based on dubious intelligence.

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