The exchange is just the latest example of the president publicly reprimanding his own health officials over the response to the coronovirus epidemic and confronting government scientists on everything from the growing threat of the virus to the timeline for vaccines.
It also comes as Trump continues to hold large indoor rallies and largely avoid wearing face masks despite the CDC’s recommendations. Redfield has said the president should cover the face to set an example for the public, although on Wednesday Trump again questioned his effectiveness.
Soon after Trump’s comments, Redfield tweeted that “the Kovid-19 vaccine is the thing that will bring Americans back to normal everyday life,” saying that the mask is still the best defense we have against the virus, As well as hand hygiene, avoiding and avoiding social congestion.
Trump also suggested to Congress with Redfield’s comment that the American general public is unlikely to have access to a coronovirus vaccine until next summer or fall, predicting a faster time than their health officials.
“It’s just misinformation,” Trump said. “When he said this, I believe he was confused. … It’s a very fast delivery process.”
Trump told reporters that once the FDA approves a vaccine, his administration plans to distribute 100 million doses of it by the end of the year, with health care workers and vulnerable populations taking priority. He said the wider public would soon have access to the vaccine. Most developmental vaccines require two doses per person.
Scott Atlas, who advised the president on coronovirus, told reporters at the briefing that the administration estimated that about 700 million vaccines could be distributed to the public by the end of March, providing a more optimistic timeline than Redfield.
Redfield told the Senate Appropriations Committee just hours ago that the date the vaccine is approved to the American public would take about six to nine months to be vaccinated. And the scientific leader of Operation Speed, the government’s vaccine accelerator program, wrote at the end of last month that 300 million vaccine doses could be “deployed by mid-2021”, similar to Redfield’s time.
The CDC on Wednesday released its ambitious plan for the distribution and administration of Kovid-19 vaccines, which included HHS as well as the Department of Defense. Doses may be available to specific populations in early November, although priority final decisions will be made down the road. Atlas said that minority populations and older adults would join those groups.
This is not the first time Trump has cast out his CDC director. In April, Trump, who downplayed the risk of bad flu weather, demanded that Redfield publicly clarify comments warning that influenza could be particularly challenging amid the epidemic. Redfield reaffirmed his comments, and has continued to warn about the dangers of bad flu weather this year.
Wednesday’s reprimand of the President of Redfield also comes as his administration is under fire for interfering with the CDC’s weekly scientific reports that use to update and inform medical and scientific communities, state and local health departments Are carried out, and on the epidemic of developing viruses.