WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump praised the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines in a new interview just days after being booed by an audience for revealing he received a Covid booster shot.
"The vaccine is one of the greatest achievements of mankind," Trump told conservative commentator Candace Owens in an interview on Wednesday. While Trump has expressed opposition to vaccine mandates, he has long taken credit for the vaccines developed on his watch.
"I came up with a vaccine, with three vaccines all are very, very good," he said in the interview, referring to the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots.
Trump also said people who are vaccinated aren't the ones becoming seriously ill.
"The ones that get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don't do the vaccine, but it's still their choice," he said. "And if you take the vaccine you're protected, the results of the vaccine are good."
On Sunday, Trump drew boos from an audience in Dallas after revealing to former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly that he got a Covid booster shot.
“Both the president and I are vaxxed,” O’Reilly said during the final stop of "The History Tour," a live interview show he's been doing with the former president.
The comment drew some jeers from the audience, according to a video clip of the show that O’Reilly’s “No Spin News” shared online.
“Did you get the booster?” O'Reilly asked the former president.
“Yes,” Trump responded.
“I got it, too,” O'Reilly said, eliciting more hectoring.
“Don’t! Don’t! Don’t! Don’t! Don’t!” the former president then told the crowd, waving off their reaction with his hand.
Although Trump has touted the vaccines, he has refused to urge his supporters to take them, even though Republicans remain far less likely than Democrats to be protected.
Trump chose to receive his in private — an acknowledgement of the unpopularity of the vaccine with large swaths of his base. And while he has blamed the Biden administration for high levels of vaccine skepticism, he repeatedly undermined public health recommendations while in office, encouraging the use of unproven treatments and playing down the threat the virus posed as he tried to prioritize economic recovery and secure a second term.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki shared on Twitter the Owens interview clip of Trump commenting on vaccines and said: "Just going to echo former President Trump here on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. Merry Christmas eve eve. go get boosted."
President Joe Biden in his own speech on Covid on Tuesday praised Trump for getting his booster.
"It may be one of the few things he and I agree on," said Biden. "People with booster shots are highly protected."
Trump had told the Wall Street Journal in a September interview that he “probably” wouldn’t get a booster shot.
“I feel like I’m in good shape from that standpoint,” he told the paper. “I’ll look at stuff later on. I’m not against it, but it’s probably not for me.”
Trump was hospitalized with Covid in October 2020, weeks before the presidential election, and received experimental monoclonal antibodies treatment. His former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, revealed in a book released this month that Trump was far sicker than the White House disclosed at the time.