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2.2m American lives could have been lost had the president not taken the unprecedented step of shutting down roughly half of the American economy.

During the debate, Vice President Mike Pence said that if US President Donald Trump hadn’t taken the unprecedented step of shutting down roughly half of the American economy, they could have lost 2.2 million American lives. Trump mentioned the same figure over 20 times in April 2020, stating that “2.2 million Americans might die if nothing were done to prevent the spread of the disease — no social distancing, no business closures, no banning of mass gatherings.” Pence and Trump were referring to a study by researchers from Imperial College London, released in March. If the virus were allowed to spread essentially unchecked, the researchers found, some 2.2 million Americans might die. However, Pence fails to mention the death totals by then, which were in thousands and could have been prevented. The New York Times published a report on May 22, which said that if the United States had begun imposing social distancing measures one week earlier than it did in March, about 36,000 fewer people would have died in the coronavirus outbreak, according to estimates from Columbia University disease modelers. Pence fails to take into account how many people had lost their lives by April, and only mentions the 2.2 million figure, and quotes this figure in terms of his administration’s victory. However, that is misleading because thousands died due to Trump’s delayed response to the coronavirus. Reports show that as early as January, the president was advised by his own experts and the intelligence services of the need for urgent mitigation measures against the spread of the virus, reported the Washington Post. Instead, his approach was slow, and finally, on March 16, he reversed his previously dismissive stance and announced “new guidelines for every American to follow.” But by then, the United States was already the world leader in its rate of COVID-19 infection and has since become home to one-third of the world’s cases and five times as many as any other country.

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