- The Washington Times - Friday, December 24, 2021

Former President Donald Trump is pushing back against vaccine skepticism and, in a rare truce, the current White House is praising his remarks.

In an interview with conservative media personality Candace Owens published last week, Mr. Trump squashed fears that people are dying from the jab and said that the “vaccine works.”

“Look, the results of the vaccine are very good, and if you do get it, it’s a very minor form,” Mr. Trump said. “People aren’t dying when they take the vaccine.”

Ms. Owens questioned the former president on why more people had died from COVID-19 since the rollout of the vaccine, implying that the vaccine had done little to curb the disease’s spread.

Mr. Trump dismissed the premise.

“Oh no, the vaccines work,” Mr. Trump said. “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.”

He also touted the speed with which his administration rolled out the vaccine under an $18 billion program called “Operation Warp Speed.”

“The vaccine is one of the greatest achievements of mankind,” Mr. Trump said. “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.”

Mr. Trump‘s interview with Ms. Owens followed an unprecedented volley of goodwill between the current White House and the former president over the vaccine.

The Republican former president had made headlines early in the week by telling former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly in an interview that he had received a booster shot.

Those remarks received mixed reactions from the live audience for the sit-down interview, and Mr. Trump pushed back against the detractors.

“Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t,” Mr. Trump says in a video of the event tweeted by Mr. O’Reilly. “That’s all right, it’s a very tiny group over there.”

He also said during the interview that those Republicans who dismiss the vaccine are “playing right into their hands.”

“Look, we did something that was historic, we saved tens of millions of lives worldwide. We, together, all of us, not me,” Mr. Trump said.

President Biden later applauded Mr. Trump for receiving the booster. And in a speech addressing the uptick in cases, Mr. Biden praised the Trump team for its steps in developing the vaccine.

“Thanks to the prior administration and our scientific community, America is one of the first countries to get the vaccine,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Trump was gracious following the nod.

“I’m very appreciative of that — I was surprised to hear it,” Mr. Trump said in an interview on Fox News Digital.

Still, in the interview with Ms. Owens, the former president drew a clear line between the vaccines’ effectiveness and the vaccine mandates being pushed by Mr. Biden, Democratic lawmakers, and Democrat-led city and states.

“Forget about the mandates,” he told Ms. Owens. “People have to have their freedom.”

But despite his split with Mr. Biden on the mandates, the current White House continued its good will toward the Trump administration on the vaccine.

“Just going to echo former President Trump here on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted Thursday. “Merry Christmas Eve eve. Go get boosted.”

On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Mr. Trump’s stance on the vaccine is quite welcome.

“I think his continuing to say that people should get vaccinated and articulating that to them in my mind is a good thing and I hope he keeps it up,” Mr. Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Mr. Fauci said he was also surprised at the amount of pushback the former president has received over his remarks, and said the jeers from the crowd during his interview with Mr. O’Reilly left him “dismayed.”

“I was stunned by that, I mean, given the fact of how popular [Mr. Trump] is with that group that they would boo him, which tells me how recalcitrant they are about being told what they should do,” Mr. Fauci said.

• Jeff Mordock and Seth McLaughlin contributed to this story. 

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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