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CDC, Trump Clash Over Vaccine Timeline

On the same day the CDC head projected wide distribution in 2021, Trump claims 2020.

Robert Redfield, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, spoke to a hearing of the Senate Labor-HHS appropriations subcommittee today about the coronavirus vaccine—and the challenges of distributing it. But hours later, President Donald Trump contradicted him. Read on for the dueling narratives regarding what's needed to end the pandemic, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

Redfield Said a Vaccine May be Wildly Available—but Not Until Later Next Year

"Redfield said a vaccine might become available in November or December for first responders but not widely available until 'the second or third quarter' of next year. He later testified it would take six to nine months after a vaccine was approved before it could be distributed nationally," reports NPR. "The federal government needs an additional $5.5 billion to $6 billion to distribute a Covid-19 vaccine once one is approved, Redfield told a Senate panel Wednesday," adds Bloomberg. Said Redfield: "We do not have the resources to support 64 jurisdictions to get this plan operational. To me, it's an urgency that we get that, calling it a "resource-intensive" distribution.

Trump Disagreed, Saying the Vaccine Would Be Distributed Earlier

"Donald Trump, continuing to contradict what Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield said earlier today, just said at a press conference that 'under no circumstance would [the vaccine] be as late as the doctor said,'" reports the Guardian. "We're very close to that vaccine as you know and I think much closer than I think most people want to say," Trump said during a White House press briefing Wednesday. "We think we can start some time in October. So as soon as it's announced we'll be able to start. That will be from mid-October on. It may be a little bit later than that….I don't think it's going to be too much later than that."

Commenting on Redfield's remarks, Trump said: "I think he made a mistake when he said that. It's just incorrect information and I called him and he didn't tell me that and I think he got the message maybe confused, maybe it was stated incorrectly," Trump said. "We're ready to go immediately as the vaccine is announced and it could be announced in October, it could be announced a little bit after October but once we go we're ready."

"I didn't see him say it, but if that's what he said then it's a mistake because … we're ready to distribute immediately to a vast section of our country and then beyond because we want to help other countries also but we're ready to distribute immediately," Trump added.

Redfield Called a Face Mask More Important Than a Vaccine

During his session, Redfield called face masks "the most important, powerful public health tool we have." "I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine," Redfield said.

He also said no one was interfering with his agency's reports. "Last week news outlets reported that Michael Caputo, a Health and Human Services Department political appointee, tried to gain editorial control over CDC's weekly scientific report," reports the AP. Dr. Robert Redfield testified that the CDC's "scientific integrity … has not been compromised and it will not be compromised under my watch." Caputo has since taken a leave of absence to focus on his health and family.

As for yourself: as we all wait for a vaccine—whether it comes in October 2020 or 2021—to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, wear your face mask, avoid crowds, social distance and don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael
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