President Trump on COVID vaccine: I know better than the head of CDC

President Trump disputed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield’s testimony to Congress on Wednesday that a coronavirus vaccine would not be ready for the general public until the “second” or “third quarter” of next year, saying Redfield “misunderstood” the questions he was asked.

“I think he made a mistake when he said that,” Trump said at a White House press conference on Wednesday in reference to Redfield’s timeline for a vaccine. “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 has repeatedly promised that a vaccine will be ready for distribution in either October or November. Redfield testified that while vaccine trials could be completed by November or December, the mammoth production and distribution challenge that remained would mean that most Americans will not be able to receive it for several months.

“No, we’re ready to go immediately as the vaccine is announced,” Trump said.

Pressed as to why he believed his own timeline was more accurate than that of one of the top medical experts in his administration, Trump doubled down.

“I don’t think he means that. I don’t think he — when he said it, I believe he was confused,” Trump said, adding, “I think he just made a mistake. He just made a mistake.”

At the same briefing, however, Scott Atlas, who recently joined Trump’s coronavirus team as an adviser, offered an appraisal on the vaccine timeline that was closer to Redfield’s, saying that “no later than January” high-risk groups “would be able to receive” a dose of the vaccine, but that another 700 million doses would not be completed until “the end of Q1.”

Testifying before the Senate on Wednesday, Redfield said he thought a vaccine would initially be available sometime between November and December, but would not be quickly ready for widespread distribution.

“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 2020,” Redfield said.

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