President Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he called the Centers for Disease Control director to remind him that a COVID-19 vaccine would be available before the November election.
CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield testified before the Senate Wednesday morning that a COVID-19 vaccine would likely not have widespread availability to the public until mid-2021.
But Trump told reporters on Wednesday that Redfield had been “confused” when he made the statement.
“I think he made a mistake when he said that,” Trump said in a briefing at the White House.
The President added that, upon hearing Redfield’s remarks, he called the CDC director.
“I called him and he didn’t tell me that, and I think he got the message maybe confused,” Trump said, adding that he had asked Redfield what he meant in making the comment.
Trump added that “we’re ready to go immediately as the vaccine is announced, and it could be announced in October, it could be announced a little bit after October, but once we go, we’re ready.”
Experts have said that given the current status of the vaccine trials, there is virtually no chance that enough data will be collected to meaningfully know whether any of the three vaccine candidates currently in phase III trials will be safe and effective in the coming weeks.
Nevertheless, the Trump administration has committed itself to approving a vaccine on a timeline that could benefit President Trump’s re-election campaign.
Dr. Redfield himself has told state officials to prepare to begin distributing a vaccine by late October.
But in testimony before the Senate Wednesday morning, he was making a different point: that vaccine supply would likely not meet demand to the level of ensuring widespread availability until mid-2021.
“We’re very close to that vaccine, as you know, I think closer than most people want to say, certainly closer than most people understand,” Trump said. “We think we can start sometime in October, so as soon as it’s announced, we’ll be able to start. That will be from mid-October on.”