Trump contradicts his CDC director over masks, vaccine timeline

Source: Politico | September 16, 2020 | Brianna Ehley

Robert Redfield told the Senate Appropriations Committee that wearing a mask could be more effective than a vaccine at keeping the pandemic at bay.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday twice contradicted his own CDC director — on mask-wearing and vaccine distribution — saying the country’s top public health official misspoke when he was testifying under oath before a congressional committee earlier in the day.

Robert Redfield told the Senate Appropriations Committee that wearing a mask could be more effective than a coronavirus vaccine at keeping the pandemic at bay. “If I don’t get an immune response [from a Covid-19] vaccine it’s not going to protect me. This face mask will,” he said.

Trump said Redfield was mistaken. “No, the mask is not as important as the vaccine,” Trump told reporters at a White House briefing Wednesday, adding that he called up the CDC director to discuss his remarks to Congress. “As far as the mask is concerned, he made a mistake.”

Trump also took issue with Redfield’s remarks to Congress suggesting that the U.S. general public likely wouldn’t have access to a coronavirus vaccine until next summer or fall.

“It’s just incorrect information,” Trump said. “When he said it, I believe he was confused. … It’s going to be a much faster distribution process.”

Trump told reporters that once the FDA approves a vaccine, his administration plans to distribute as many as 100 million doses by the end of the year, with health care workers and vulnerable populations getting prioritized, adding that the broader public would have access to the vaccine shortly after.

Redfield just hours earlier told the Senate Appropriations Committee it will take about six to nine months to get the American public vaccinated from the date a vaccine is approved.

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