Claiming Covid-19 'immunity,' Trump ready for election fight

Washington (AFP) –


US President Donald Trump on Sunday declared himself immune from Covid-19 and ready for a fight as his White House race against surging rival Joe Biden enters its critical final weeks.

Trump was given the all-clear Saturday to return to the campaign trail after he was ruled no longer a coronavirus transmission risk -- although he has yet to be declared virus-free.

"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," Trump said in a Fox News interview Sunday.

"The word immunity means something, having really a protective glow."

"You have a president who is immune... so now you have a president who doesn't have to hide in a basement like his opponent," Trump added -- in a jab at the Democrat Biden and his far more cautious approach to campaigning in a pandemic.

It is not yet clear to what degree contracting Covid-19 confers immunity from future infection, with early studies suggesting a few months while newer ones have indicated it could last longer.

The World Health Organization cautioned in August that regarding the coronavirus, "we do not yet have enough data to confirm if antibodies protect, what antibody levels are required, or how long protection will last."

Badly trailing his Democratic rival with just 23 days until the November 3 vote, Trump has been counting the days until he can hit the trail again.

The Republican leader rallied hundreds of supporters for a comeback event at the White House on Saturday, and is planning back-to-back rallies this week -- in Florida on Monday, then Pennsylvania and Iowa -- in a bit to salvage his struggling campaign.


During his phone interview on Fox News, the 74-year-old Trump to suggest that his White House rival could himself be sick.

"If you look at Joe, he was coughing yesterday horribly and grabbing his mask, as he's coughing," Trump said. "And I don't know what that was all about, and it didn't get much press."

The Biden campaign has been publishing daily coronavirus tests for their 77-year-old candidate since Trump tested positive on October 1 -- landing him in hospital for three nights and derailing his campaign.

There has been less transparency surrounding Trump's own state of health, with his medical team repeatedly refusing to say when he lasted tested negative for the virus. That has fueled suspicions that he may not have been tested for several days prior to his diagnosis.

Covid-19 has killed more than 214,000 people in the United States.

Biden has slammed Trump's determination to rally huge crowds during the pandemic -- but the president has brushed the concerns aside, insisting America has the upper hand against the virus.

"There is no excuse for President Trump's reckless behavior," Biden tweeted again on Sunday.

Barack Obama's former vice-president is currently close to 10 points ahead in national polls with a solid lead in key battleground states.

With his political horizon darkening, Trump has taken -- more than ever -- to recalling his surprise win in 2016, as if to persuade himself that he can pull off a second upset.

In a morning tweet on Sunday he paraphrased the prominent statistician Nate Silver who had written back in 2016 about Trump's victory being "one of the most shocking events" in US history -- firing back at him:

"That's only because you got it so wrong. This time there is far more ENTHUSIASM even than 2016."