Trump, of course, beat his own case of COVID back in October, presumably leaving him with some temporary natural immunity. But because coronavirus reinfections are possible, people need to get vaccinated regardless of if they’ve already been sick or tested positive, the CDC has said, stressing that “experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19” and that “some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.” Dr. Anthony Fauci echoed the suggestion, telling Good Morning America that he would urge Trump to get vaccinated as soon as he can: “Even though the president himself was infected,” Fauci said, “and he has likely antibodies that likely would be protective, we’re not sure how long that protection lasts.” Perhaps even more importantly, were Trump to roll up his sleeve on live TV, he would be leading by example while also helping to disabuse Americans of the erroneous belief that they’re in the clear if they’ve already had a positive COVID-19 test.
The official word on why Trump has not yet been vaccinated has to do with the monoclonal antibody cocktail he received while being treated for COVID-19 in the fall. According to the CDC, you must wait 90 days after receiving the antibodies before you get the vaccine, in order to avoid any “interference.” December 31 would have marked 90 days since Trump was reported to have started the treatment on Oct. 2; he walked out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center three days later. It’s unclear precisely when Trump stopped receiving the antibody cocktail, but since the treatment is given intravenously, and the drug maker said he only received a single dose, it seems that he’d be well in the clear by mid-January. Even if, for whatever reason, Trump isn’t okayed for the shot just yet, he should still be able to schedule and publicize his planned vaccination date. Instead, the White House has been strangely vague about his plans, claiming last month that the president is still waiting to be cleared by his medical team — an explanation that has the familiar echo of his dubious excuse for not releasing his tax returns due to an ongoing audit.