CDC's Redfield contradicts Trump admin on COVID vaccine timing, says sometime in 2021

CDC Director Redfield calls on Americans to wear masks, says they may work better than a vaccine

CDC Director Redfield tells Senate Appropriations committee that people should wear masks.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield on Wednesday told a panel of Senate lawmakers not to expect a coronavirus vaccine to become widely available this year, effectively contradicting President Trump’s repeated assertion that a vaccine might be available before the November election.

In his testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Redfield said any version of the vaccine available this year would be in “very limited supply.” He estimated that the shot wouldn’t be broadly available to most of the U.S. population until the summer of 2021.

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testifies at a hearing with the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
(Anna Moneymaker/New York Times, Pool via AP)

"There will be a vaccine that will initially be available sometime between November and December, but very limited supply and will have to be prioritized," Redfield said. "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."

The comments just a day after President Trump, in an interview on “Fox & Friends,” claimed a coronavirus vaccine could be approved “in a matter of weeks.”

"I'm not doing it for political reasons, I want the vaccine fast," Trump said of the push for a vaccine, called "Operation Warp Speed." "You wouldn't have a vaccine for years … I speeded up the process with the FDA… We're going to have a vaccine in a matter of weeks, it could be four weeks, it could be eight weeks … we have a lot of great companies."

In his Wednesday testimony, Redfield rejected questions over whether the government’s timeline for states to be ready for a vaccine by Nov. 1 was politically motivated.

Redfield told the Senate lawmakers that the “scientific integrity” of his agency's output “has not been compromised and it will not be compromised under my watch.”

He said he was “deeply saddened” by Health and Human Services spokesperson Michael Caputo's accusations that CDC staff were working as a “resistance unit” against the administration.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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