Trump's COVID-19 vaccination plan would take years to actually work


Trump claims the military is ready to deliver 200,000 coronavirus vaccines per day. At that rate, it would take nearly four-and-a-half years to vaccinate the U.S. population.

At the presidential debate Tuesday night, Donald Trump claimed the government would have a coronavirus vaccine before the November election, and said the country will be ready to vaccinate 200,000 Americans per day once the vaccine is approved.

"Well, we’re going to deliver it right away. We have the military all set up. Logistically, they’re all set up. We have our military that delivers soldiers and they can do 200,000 a day. They’re going to be delivering," Trump said.

Yet while 200,000 vaccines may sound like a lot, that pace would mean it would be years before the United States population is vaccinated against the deadly virus — which has left more than 206,000 people dead and has left the U.S. economy in shambles.

The United States population stands at 330 million, according to the U.S. Census. That means that under Trump's proposed plan, it would take roughly 4.5 years to vaccinate the entire U.S. population, at a rate of 200,000 vaccinations per day. If the vaccine requires two doses — which is a distinct possibility, according to public health experts — it would take nine years to fully vaccinate the population.

Of course, in this hypothetical scenario, not everyone would have to be vaccinated to build up enough herd immunity to keep the virus at bay. Infectious disease experts say vaccinating 60% of the population would build up enough immunity to slow the spread of the virus.

Let's dig into that math. Sixty percent of the U.S. population is roughly 198 million people. If the U.S. military administered just 200,000 vaccinations per day, it would take roughly 2.7 years to vaccinate the number of people necessary to achieve herd immunity. If the vaccine needed two doses to be effective, it would take 5.4 years to achieve full herd immunity.

Public health experts have cast doubt on Trump's vaccine plan altogether, saying that there is no way a vaccine could be ready before the election and that Trump's vaccine promises are no more than a political stunt.

Even if one buys into Trump's debate promises and fuzzy math, the actual mechanics of distributing a vaccine to Americans would take much, much longer than anyone would prefer.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.