Former President Donald Trump shut down conservative media personality Candace Owens after she tried to claim that COVID-19 vaccines do not work, stunning viewers in the process.
Trump took credit for the “incredible speed” with which COVID-19 vaccines were developed during his White House tenure but corrected Owens when she said that "more people have died under COVID this year," a claim that is misleading.
You can watch what happened in the video below.
Trump began by praising himself for the nationwide vaccine rollout, telling Owens:
“I came up with a vaccine, with three vaccines. All are very, very good. Came up with three of them in less than nine months. It was supposed to take five to 12 years.”
Owens responded that "more people have died under COVID this year" even though "more people took the vaccine this year," which is misleading.
While the United States has certainly lost more lives to COVID-19 this year than last year, the higher death toll has been attributed to lower-than-needed vaccination rates in addition to a relaxation of everyday precautions to curb the virus's spread. The rise of the highly contagious Delta variant also contributed to higher death rates, largely among the unvaccinated population.
It was here when Trump pushed back, insisting that vaccines do, in fact, work:
"“Oh no, the vaccines work, but some people aren’t the ones. The ones who get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don’t take the vaccine."
"But it’s still their choice. And if you take the vaccine, you’re protected. Look, the results of the vaccine are very good, and if you do get it, it’s a very minor form. People aren’t dying when they take the vaccine.”
Trump is correct.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has long debunked claims that natural immunity is more beneficial than the vaccine.
In fact, a study published in August showed "unvaccinated individuals are more than twice as likely to be reinfected with COVID-19 than those who were fully vaccinated after initially contracting the virus."
It also pointed out COVID-19 vaccines "offer better protection than natural immunity alone and that vaccines, even after prior infection, help prevent reinfections."
The agency continues to stress the importance of getting the vaccine as the best line of defense against COVID-19.
"COVID-19 vaccines remain safe and effective. They prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
"Additionally, even among the uncommon cases of COVID-19 among the fully or partially vaccinated vaccines make people more likely to have a milder and shorter illness compared to those who are unvaccinated. CDC continues to recommend everyone 12 and older get vaccinated against COVID-19."
Trump's statements marked a significant about-face from his previous rhetoric, sending waves throughout the online community.
While some suggested that his statements might just change a few minds among his most fervent supporters, others decried his words as too little too late after nearly two years of downplaying the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump recently revealed that he'd received his booster shot, though he still attempted to toe the line with his base, telling Fox News host Bill O'Reilly that he is still very much against vaccine and mask mandates. His comments still drew a few jeers from the audience.
Previously, Trump claimed that booster shots are nothing more than a "money-making operation" and criticized vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna, saying that "you could see the dollar signs in their eyes."
Trump has in the past claimed his administration deserved full credit for vaccine development and distribution.
While in office, Trump announced Operation Warp Speed, the partnership initiated by the federal government to facilitate and accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and medical treatments.
However, Pfizer has not acknowledged Operation Warp Speed. It says it did not work with the Trump administration to develop its Covid-19 vaccine.
Moderna, on the other hand, has confirmed it received funds from the federal government to develop its vaccine.