- One of President Trump’s tweets over the weekend — in which he claimed to have coronavirus immunity — got flagged by Twitter, with a warning label attached to the tweet for spreading “misinformation.”
- In an interview on Monday, however, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci actually defended parts of Trump’s tweet, acknowledging that the president, for example, “does have an immune response in him.”
- The only legitimate complaint Fauci apparently has with the tweet is that it could be read as suggesting an indefinite period of immunity, whereas the science is still out on how long coronavirus immunity actually lasts.
White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has inadvertently given a muted defense, but a defense nonetheless, of a tweet from President Trump over the weekend that was flagged by Twitter and slapped with a warning label that says the tweet “violated the Twitter Rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19.”
The tweet from Trump, whose doctors say he is now COVID-free and can hit the campaign trail again in earnest, dealt with our still novel understanding around coronavirus immunity. “A total and complete sign off from White House Doctors yesterday,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. “That means I can’t get it (immune), and can’t give it. Very nice to know!!!” If you check out that tweet now, you can clearly see the warning label from Twitter affixed to it. And if that’s all you noted before moving on, you’d be unaware of comments Dr. Fauci made during an interview with CNN‘s Jake Tapper on Monday, which included Fauci saying that the president … is at least partially right.
Let’s take apart the key line from Trump’s tweet about immunity, and go to the videotape to check out Fauci’s response.
Dr. Fauci says President Trump is probably not contagious for Covid-19, but probably should wear a mask because even though he’s technically immune from being reinfected following his recovery, that immune response is only true for “a limited period of time.” pic.twitter.com/AN96pN4CsE
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) October 12, 2020
In the clip above, Fauci says that Trump’s recovery and negative COVID-19 test results put him “well within the 10-day time frame of being non-transmissible.” That is Dr. Fauci literally confirming Trump’s assertion in the tweet that he “can’t give it” to other people now, meaning the virus.
Dr. Fauci continues: “If (President Trump) means he’s been infected, and having been infected and recovered, that he will not get infected again — that’s true. For a limited period of time.
“What we do not know is how long that protection lasts. So, technically speaking, the fact that he has recovered, from an immunological standpoint, he has an immune response in him.”
Got all that? Dr. Fauci confirms the president’s assertion that he can’t pass on the virus right now, and in response to Trump’s declaration that he can’t get it right now either, Fauci acknowledges that Trump does have “an immune response in him.” The only legitimate bone there is to pick with the tweet is over the question of time — of the duration of the president’s, or anybody’s, coronavirus immunity.
It is quite understandable that that’s just a hard nut to crack right now — pinning down how long any immunity lasts — because we’ve been only been aware of this disease for a few months. Fauci also adds that another reason it’s tricky when talking about how long potential immunity lasts is because there are starting to be a smattering of well-documented cases around the world of coronavirus re-infection.
Nevertheless, it seems that issue about the duration of immunity is the only valid criticism you can level against the president’s tweet, based on Dr. Fauci’s new comments. Smarter people than me can decide whether Twitter went overboard in attaching a warning label to the tweet. Side note: The president does actually seem to understand this point. In an interview with Fox News over the weekend, Trump basically elaborated on what he wrote in the tweet, and reiterated Fauci’s points (but in his own Trumpian way):
“It looks like I’m immune for, I don’t know, maybe a long time and maybe a short time. It could be a lifetime, nobody really knows, but I’m immune.”
Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.