President Donald Trump disputed CDC chief Robert Redfield’s congressional testimony that a coronavirus vaccine would not be widely available until late 2021 during a briefing on Wednesday, Yahoo News reports.
Redfield testified to a Senate committee that a vaccine would not be widely available until late summer or early fall.
“If you’re asking me when it is going to be generally available to the American public so we can begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life, I think we’re probably looking at late second quarter, third quarter,” he said.
Redfield also broke with the president to argue that masks are better protection than a vaccine, which may be only 70% effective.
“These face masks are the most powerful public health tool we have and I will continue to appeal to all Americans to embrace these face masks,” Redfield said. “If we did for 6, 8, 10, 12 weeks we’d bring this pandemic under control. I might even go so far as to say that this face covering is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine because the immunogenicity may be 70 percent and if I don’t get an immune response the vaccine’s not going to protect me. This face mask will.”
Trump insisted during a briefing on Wednesday that Redfield misspoke.
“I think he made a mistake when he said that,” Trump said. “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.”
“No, we’re ready to go immediately as the vaccine is announced,” he added. “I don’t think he means that. I don’t think he — when he said it, I believe he was confused. I think he just made a mistake. He just made a mistake.”
Trump rejects mask statement:
Trump also disputed Redfield’s comments on masks.
“Number one, it’s not more effective, by any means, than a vaccine, and I called him about that. Those 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,” Trump said.
Redfield clarified his remarks on Twitter.
“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,” he said.
“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,” he added.