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President Trump touts record on virus, testing and lowering drug costs during acceptance speech

In his 70-minute speech from the South Lawn of the White House last night, President Donald Trump bashed opponent Joe Biden.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty ImagesPhoto by Alex Wong/Getty Images

In his 70-minute acceptance speech from the South Lawn of the White House last night, President Donald Trump bashed opponent Joe Biden and credited his administration's handling of the coronavirus, the development of a vaccine and the lowering of drug prices.

NPR and other fact-checkers have taken issue with some of the president's claims.

COVID-19

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"In recent months, our nation and the world has been hit by the once-in-a-century pandemic that China allowed to spread around the globe. They could have stopped it, but they allowed it to come out.

"And when the China virus hit, we launched the largest national mobilization since World War II, invoking the Defense Production Act. We produced the world's largest supply of ventilators. Not a single American who has needed a ventilator has been denied a ventilator, which is a miracle," Trump said.

Opponents have blamed the president for failing to act quickly enough to stop the spread of COVID-19, for the shortage of personal protection equipment and ventilators, and for his wanting to open up the country again too quickly. There was little social distancing, and few were seen wearing masks at the convention gathering Thursday night.

The United States is closing on 6 million reported cases of COVID-19 and over 181,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard.

During his speech, Trump put the blame on China, where the virus originated and said, "China would own our country if Joe Biden got elected. Unlike Biden, I will hold them fully accountable for the tragedy that they caused, all over the world, they caused."

Trump credited the amount of testing being done in this country saying, "America has tested more than every country in Europe put together, and more than every nation in the Western Hemisphere combined. Think of that."

The president has also faced criticism on test shortages.

An NPR fact-checker said, "The U.S. is certainly among the top countries when it comes to the sheer number of tests conducted, but there's also some evidence that China might have surpassed the U.S., with some estimates showing 90 million tests conducted in China, versus 71 million in the United States." 

Trump has recently touted a decrease in the number of cases and fatalities.

"Thanks to advances, we have pioneered the fatality rate and you look at it, and you look at the numbers, it has been reduced by 80% since April. Eighty percent," he said. "The United States has among the lowest case fatality rates of any major country anywhere in the world. The European Union's case fatality rate is nearly three times higher than ours, but you don't hear that. They don't write about that. They don't want to write about that. They don't want you to know those things.

"All together, the nations of Europe have experienced a 30% greater increase in excess mortality than the United States. Think of that."

Public health experts don't see these statistics as a reliable marker of success, NPR said. A lower rate of death compared to the number of cases may be due to more younger people getting sick and recovering.

"When it comes to the sheer number of deaths, even adjusted for population size, the U.S. isn't doing well compared with other peer nations," NPR said.

VACCINE

Trump said, "We are delivering life-saving therapies and will produce a vaccine before the end of the year, or maybe even sooner."

Dr. Anthony Fauci has said he is cautiously optimistic that a vaccine will be ready by the end of the year or early 2021.

The Administration's Operation Warp Speed has drug trials underway, which goes to Trump's statement, "Most importantly, we are marshalling America's scientific genius to produce a vaccine in record time."

DRUG PRICES

Trump said, "Last month, I took on Big Pharma. You think that's easy? It's not. And signed orders that will massively lower the cost of your prescription drugs and give critically ill patients access to life-saving cures."

On July 24, the president signed four executive orders on drug pricing. One would reinstate a rebate rule that has been criticized by health insurers. 

Another would lower Medicare Part B costs by tying those prices to what is paid in other countries, which has gained the attention of pharmaceutical companies which have objected.

The president has reportedly said he'd give them time to come up with an alternative plan. So far, the executive orders have not been implemented, according to NPR.

ON BIDEN 

"Instead of following the science, Joe Biden wants to inflict a painful shutdown on the entire country. His shutdown would inflict unthinkable and lasting harm on our nation's children's, families and citizens of all backgrounds."

Trump said, "The cost of the Biden shutdown would be measured in increased drug overdoses, depression, alcohol addiction, suicides, heart attacks, economic devastation, job loss and much more. Joe Biden's plan is not a solution to the virus, but, rather, it's a surrender to the virus.

"My administration has a very different approach. To save as many lives as possible, we are focusing on the science, the facts and the data. We are aggressively sheltering those at highest risk, especially the elderly, while allowing lower risk Americans to safely return to work and to school, and we want to see so many of those great states be opened by Democrats. We want them to be open. They have to be open. They have to get back to work. They have to get back to work, and they have to get back to school."

Biden has said if there is a second wave of the virus: "I would shut it down. I would listen to the scientists."

Trump: "Joe Biden recently raised his hand on the debate stage and promised, he'd give away -- he was going to give it away, your healthcare dollars to illegal immigrants, which is going to bring a massive number of immigrants into our country."

NPR said, "Immigrants living in the U.S. illegally are already ineligible for most kinds of government assistance, including food stamps, Medicaid, Obamacare subsidies and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families."

PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS 

Trump: "We will always and very strongly protect patients with preexisting conditions. And that is a pledge from the entire Republican Party."

Trump has said this while trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which already has a provision to protect consumers who have a preexisting condition.

Earlier this month Trump promised to sign an executive order requiring health insurers to cover preexisting conditions.

The Supreme Court has said it will hear the case on Tuesday, November 10, a week after the election.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com