CDC says Covid-19 vaccine won't be widely available till mid-2021, Trump contradicts: 'We're ready to go'
The president said as soon as a vaccine gets approved, the US is ready to distribute immediately to a vast section of the country going against what Dr Redfield said
The director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that a coronavirus vaccine will not be widely available to the general public until the middle of 2021. Dr Robert Redfield told senators that if a vaccine were available now, vaccinating enough Americans for widespread immunity could take six to nine months. He estimated that one could be available for limited use by the end of the year, and for wider distribution by the late second or third quarter of next year.
"I think there will be a vaccine that initially (will) be available sometime between November and December, but very limited supply and will have to be prioritized. If you’re asking me, when is it going to be generally available to the American public, so we can begin to take advantage of the vaccine to get back to our regular life? I think we’re probably looking at late second quarter, third quarter 202," Dr Redfield said during a Senate hearing.
He added, "I think that vaccination will begin in November, December, and then we'll pick up, and it'll be in a prioritized way. Those first responders and those at greatest risk for death. And then eventually that will expand. It’s hard to believe, but there are about 80 million people in our country that have significant comorbidities that put themselves at risk. They have to get vaccinated and then the general public."
Dr Redfield, however, said that as soon as a vaccine gets approved, "We want to be in a position to distribute it within 24 hours because this vaccine has the potential to save a lot of lives in November and December."
The agency chief encouraged all Americans to embrace the "powerful tools" that they have right now and even after a vaccine is approved, he insists they continue wearing a mask, particularly when they are in public, maintaining social distancing, and routine, vigilant hand-washing. "We have clear, scientific evidence they (face mask) work, and they are our best defense. I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against Covid-19 than when I take a Covid-19 vaccine because the immunogenicity maybe 70%."
He continued, "And if I don’t get an immune response to a vaccine, it’s not going to protect me. This face mask will. So, I do want to keep asking the American public to take responsibility, particularly the 18 to 25-year-olds, where we’re seeing the outbreak in America continue to go like this. Because we haven't got the acceptance to personal responsibility that we need for all Americans to embrace this face mask."
Dr Redfield also asked Americans to get their flu shot as fall approaches. He informed the Senate that the CDC has awarded $140 million to 64 jurisdictions through its existing immunization cooperative agreements to scale up flu vaccination this season. This year, CDC has purchased an additional 9.3 million doses of adult influenza vaccine, up from the usual annual 500,000 dose purchase in prior years, as well as 18.5 million doses for children.
President Donald Trump, however, contradicted Dr Redfield’s statements regarding the timing of the vaccine as well as on the importance of wearing a mask. He said that the CDC head had made a mistake and was confused, and he had probably misunderstood the question. "No. I think he made a mistake when he said that. It's just incorrect information. No, we're ready to go immediately, as the vaccine is announced. And it could be announced in October, could be announced a little bit after October. But once we go, we're ready," Trump told journalists during a briefing.
The president said that the US is ready to distribute immediately to a vast section of the country and that his administration is ready at a much faster level than what Dr Redfield said. "When he (Dr Redfield) said it, I believe he was confused. I'm just telling you, we're ready to go as soon as the vaccine happens," Trump reiterated.
Trump also criticized Dr Redfield for saying that wearing a mask can be more effective than a vaccine. "It's not more effective, by any means, than a vaccine. And I called him about that. Those (vaccine and mask) were the two things I discussed with him. And I believe that if you ask him, he would probably say that he didn't understand the question."
The president went to tell journalists that when he called Dr Redfield, "I said to him, 'What's with the mask?' He said, 'I think I answered that question incorrectly.' I think maybe he had misunderstood it. I mean, he had two questions, maybe he misunderstood both of them. But the answer to the one is it's going to be a much faster distribution than he said. Maybe he's not aware of the distribution process. It's not really his thing as much as it would be, let’s say, mine. But the distribution is going to be much faster." As far as the mask is concerned, Trump said he hoped that the vaccine is going to be a lot more beneficial than the masks.
Dr Redfield later tweeted that he completely believes in the importance of vaccines and that a Covid-19 vaccine "is the thing that will get Americans back to normal everyday life." He did not back down from his testimony about a vaccine's availability to the general public. He also emphasized that the best defense people currently have against this virus "are the important mitigation efforts of wearing a mask, washing your hands, social distancing and being careful about crowds."
I 100% believe in the importance of vaccines and the importance in particular of a #COVID19 vaccine. A COVID-19 vaccine is the thing that will get Americans back to normal everyday life.— Dr. Robert R. Redfield (@CDCDirector) September 16, 2020
The best defense we currently have against this virus are the important mitigation efforts of wearing a mask, washing your hands, social distancing and being careful about crowds. #COVID19— Dr. Robert R. Redfield (@CDCDirector) September 16, 2020