President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn’t think he could’ve done more to stop virus spread Conservative activist Lauren Witzke wins GOP Senate primary in Delaware Trump defends claim coronavirus will disappear, citing ‘herd mentality’ MORE on Wednesday broke with one of his top health officials, saying Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield made a “mistake” when he stated that a potential coronavirus vaccine would not be available to the general public until at least mid-2021.
“I think he made a mistake when he said that. It’s just incorrect information,” Trump told reporters at a news conference, disagreeing with the timeline put forth by Redfield in congressional testimony earlier Wednesday. “That is incorrect information.”
Trump said that he believed Redfield was “confused,” noting that he spoke to him by phone following the testimony and asked what he meant. Trump did not elaborate on what Redfield said to him during the call.
“I think he just made a mistake,” Trump claimed. “He misunderstood the question.”
The president’s remarks represented the latest instance of Trump breaking with one of his top health officials. Redfield, who leads the CDC and is a member of the White House coronavirus task force, told lawmakers during a hearing Wednesday that he didn’t expect a potential vaccine for COVID-19 to be available for the general public until the second or third quarter of 2021.
“I think there will be vaccine that will initially be available some time between November and December, but very limited supply, and it will have to be prioritized,” Redfield said during the hearing. “If you’re asking me when is it 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 2021.”
Trump was repeatedly pressed on a timeline for the general public to receive the vaccine during the Wednesday evening press conference. He said a coronavirus vaccine would be ready “very soon” and insisted the Trump administration would “immediately” begin distributing it to the general public.
Scott Atlas, who was brought on in August to advise Trump on the virus, said “high-priority” individuals such as elderly people who are at greater risk would receive the vaccine “no later than January” and that 700 million doses would be ready by the end of the first quarter of 2021, around March.
Trump has repeatedly forecast a quick timeline for the vaccine, saying at an ABC News town hall in Pennsylvania on Tuesday that the vaccine could be ready within three to four weeks. Health experts such as Anthony FauciAnthony FauciTrump defends claim coronavirus will disappear, citing ‘herd mentality’ Schumer calls for Azar to resign over ‘chaos’ in coronavirus response Trump says he read ‘boring’ Woodward book ‘very quickly’ MORE have said they expect a vaccine to be ready by the end of the year.
Democrats and health experts have raised concerns about the possibility of political pressure in the race to develop a vaccine. Trump has explicitly raised the possibility a vaccine could be ready before the November election.