The United States is on track to begin distributing the coronavirus vaccine in October or “a little bit later than that,” President Donald Trump announced at a White House press conference Wednesday.
Trump said his administration expects to distribute 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccine by the end of 2020 and 700 million by the end of the first quarter in 2021. The administration is beginning the distribution process before the vaccines have been approved in hopes of having the drug already in place to delivery to Americans as soon as it is approved.
“We’re on track to deliver and distribute the vaccine in a very very safe and effective manner,” Trump said. “We think we can start sometime in October. So as soon as [a vaccine is approved], we’ll be able to start.”
“To get the vaccine into the hands of the American people we are fully mobilizing the awesome power of American industry and our military,” Trump added.
“We’re very close to that vaccine as you know and I think much closer than I think most people want to say,” Trump said during a White House press briefing. “We think we can start some time in October. So as soon as it’s announced we’ll be able to start.” https://t.co/gZuwAYK0zW pic.twitter.com/scJhKaWjVO
— CNBC (@CNBC) September 16, 2020
Trump’s comments came hours after CDC Director Robert Redfield appeared to break with the administration on the timeline of the vaccine distribution.
Redfield testified to a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that a vaccine wouldn’t be widely available to the public until roughly half way through 2021. Other administration officials have said every American would be vaccinated much earlier than that.
“If you’re asking me when is it going to be available to the American public,” Redfield said in the hearing. “I think we’re probably looking at late second quarter, third quarter 2021.” (RELATED: ‘Went Too Far’: NYT Reporter Calls For CDC Director To Resign, Sparking His Employer To Speak Out)
Trump was asked about the discrepancy at the briefing, and he said Redfield never told him about that timeline.
“That’s incorrect information,” Trump said. “When he said it I believe he was confused.”
Redfield’s timeline conflicted with that of senior Department of Homeland Security official Paul Mango, who said Wednesday that every American would be vaccinated months earlier than that.
“We are under contract to get enough doses, and we have line of sight right now into the clinical trials such that we believe” the FDA will approve shots before the end of the year, Mango said in an interview, according to Bloomberg. “The combination of those two will permit us to vaccinate every American before the end of first quarter 2021.”
Trump also used the conference to criticize former Vice President Joe Biden for spreading “anti-vaccine theories,” hours after Biden said he trusted vaccines but doesn’t trust Trump to ensure a vaccine is safe.
“Let me be clear: I trust vaccines, I trust scientists, but I don’t trust Donald Trump,” Biden said.