CDC Director Robert Redfield issued a statement late Wednesday following a news conference where President Donald Trump questioned his earlier comments on the timeline of COVID-19 vaccine readiness and the importance of wearing masks.
“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,” Redfield announced on Twitter late Wednesday.
“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.”
The Twitter annoucement appears to be a clarification for his comments earlier in the day, when Redfield testified under oath before a U.S. Senate panel and spoke about the vaccine timeline and the wearing of masks.
Regarding the vaccines, he said that they would be first available in January or even late this year for those who were most vulnerable to contracting COVID-19, such as health care workers, first responders, and others at high risk. He said that the vaccine would not be readily available for the general public until “late second quarter, third quarter 2021.”
At a news conference, when asked about Redfield’s comments on the vaccine timeline, 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.
“We’re ready to go immediately as the vaccine is announced,” Trump said.
He added that the vaccine could be announced around or slightly after October and that Pfizer is “at a stage where they’re actually making” the vaccine for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, “because they are very confident as to the results.”
Trump added that to his knowledge, Pfizer will be announcing their results “fairly soon.”
“That’s incorrect information,” he told reporters. “I don’t think he means that, when he said it, I believe he was confused. I’m just telling you, we’re ready to go as soon as the vaccine happens,” referring to his administration’s efforts to prepare the logistics needed to widely distribute the vaccine as soon as it is cleared by the Food and Drug Administration.
At the same hearing earlier in the day, Redfield said that face masks are “more guaranteed” to protect from the CCP virus than a vaccine.
“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,” he said, adding that this is because the vaccine might not work for everyone. “And if I don’t get an immune response, the vaccine is not going to protect me. This face mask will.”
When asked about Redfield’s comments, Trump said, “When I called up Robert today, I said to him, ‘What’s with the masks?’ He said ‘I think I answered that question incorrectly.'”
Trump added, “As far as the masks is concerned, I hope the vaccine is going to be a lot more beneficial than the masks.”
Vaccine Distribution to Start Around October: Trump
The CDC on Wednesday sent all 50 states a document outlining the distribution plan for delivering a vaccine free of cost to all Americans who want it once one is proven safe and effective. This is not yet the case, even though several companies are in late-stage trials.
The distribution plan has been prepared as part of Operation Warp Speed, a White House-backed initiative to have vaccines ready to ship within 24 hours from the granting of emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.
The federal government will allocate the first vaccines based on each state’s critical populations that are recommended as most as risk from COVID-19 by the CDC.
“Today, my administration released our detailed national vaccine distribution plan, and that includes a plan to ensure that we swiftly deliver the vaccine directly to America’s senior citizens in nursing homes. And it’s all set. We have our military lined up. Everybody is lined up. And we think that’s going to go very nicely. We’re very close to that vaccine, as you know, and I think closer than most people want to say, or certainly closer than most people understand,” Trump said on Wednesday.
“To get the vaccine into the hands of American people, we’re fully mobilizing the awesome power of American industry and also our military. This is the largest, fastest, and most advanced vaccine distribution effort in American history, by far.”
He added, “We’re on track to deliver and distribute the vaccine in a very, very safe and effective manner. We think we can start sometime in October. So as soon as it is announced, we’ll be able to start. That’ll be from mid-October on. It may be a little bit later than that, but we’ll be all set.”
“We’ve manufactured all of the necessary supplies so that as soon as the FDA approves the vaccine … we’ll be able to distribute at least 100 million vaccine doses by the end of 2020 and a large number much sooner than that.”
One of Trump’s recently added advisers, Dr. Scott Atlas, said that as many as 700 million doses could be available by the end of March.
Redfield had told the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies earlier on Wednesday, “As soon as (a) vaccine gets approved or cleared, we want to be in a position to distribute it within 24 hours,” but “in order to have enough of us immunized … to have immunity, I think it’s going to take six to nine months.”
On Wednesday night, after Trump’s comments, CDC officials initially sent an email claiming Redfield thought he was answering a question about when vaccination of all Americans would be completed, reported The Associated Press. But then they called back that statement, and did not immediately provide additional comment.
Epoch Times reporter Tom Ozimek, The Associated Press, and Reuters contributed to this report.