The president said they could be available in October. The Centers for Disease Control say it will take several more months.
In an open contradiction to government health experts, US President Donald Trump predicted that a safe and effective vaccine against the coronavirus could be ready even next month and that its mass distribution would begin shortly thereafter.
With his statements on Wednesday, the president not only contradicted what was said by Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC by its initials in English), but called him “confused” for predicting a longer term.
Trump also disagreed with Redfield on the effectiveness of the masks – which the president recommends but rarely uses – and said he called Redfield to tell him that.
Hours earlier, the CDC sent all 50 states a plan for the distribution of a vaccine that would be free to all Americans once its safety and effectiveness is proven, which is not yet the case.
During a congressional hearing, Redfield said healthcare workers, first responders and other high-risk individuals would be the first to get the vaccine, perhaps in January and even before the end of this year, but it is unlikely to be available more extensively before the end of the first half of next year, as long as it is approved.
Following Trump’s comments, CDC officials reported Wednesday night that the director had believed he was answering a question about when the vaccination process for all Americans would be completed.
Redfield, who occasionally wore a chinstrap inside the Senate courtroom, also spoke emphatically of the importance of everyone wearing a mask to curb the pandemic, which has claimed the lives of nearly 200,000 Americans. He hinted at the possibility that a vaccine is 70% effective in creating immunity and stated: “I would venture to say that this mask guarantees me more protection against Covid than once I receive the vaccine.”
Trump completely disqualified his words. “The vaccine is much more effective than the chinstrap “he declared. As for vaccinating Americans, the White House chief commented on Wednesday that he believed “we can start sometime in October.”
A few weeks ago, the president had said that there would be vaccines available before the November elections, in which he will seek his re-election.
One of his newly arrived advisers, Dr. Scott Atlas, commented that there could be “up to 700 million doses available by the end of March.”
Trump made his prognosis even though the vaccine is still being tested in people and some health experts have said that it could take months, or perhaps longer, before there is a safe and highly effective vaccine.
CDC sent a planning document to states, territories, and some of the nation’s largest cities. Adding to the logistical complications, the vaccines may need to be given in two doses several weeks apart and may need to be kept refrigerated.
Redfield said the states they are not ready to deal with the demand for such a scale distribution and that about $ 6 billion in additional funds would be needed to prepare the country.
Redfield said that any vaccine that is available in November or December would have “very limited supplies” and would be reserved for emergency personnel and for those most vulnerable to Covid-19. The injection would not be widely available until spring or summer 2021, he estimated.
The plan faces a persistent skepticism. Just half of Americans would get vaccinated, according to an Associated Press-NORC poll conducted in May. To effectively protect the nation from the coronavirus, experts say that more than 70% of the population must be immunized.