Story at a glance

  • Robert Redfield told a Senate subcommittee that wearing a mask may be more effective than a potential vaccine.
  • Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious diseases expert, said that he would like to see a potential COVID-19 vaccine have an at least 75 percent efficacy rate.

While much of the world has pinned its hopes for a recovery following the pandemic on the approval of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, Center for Disease and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield on Wednesday emphasized the need for more people to wear face coverings in public, suggesting masks are a more effective tool right now than any potential vaccine.

“We have clear scientific evidence they work, I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine, because the immunogenicity may be 70 percent and if I don't get an immune response, the vaccine's not going to protect me, this face mask will,” he told a Senate panel.


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Experts have previously echoed Redfield’s statements. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious diseases expert, said that he would like to see a potential COVID-19 vaccine have an at least 75 percent efficacy rate, although Food and Drug Administration guidance requires any approved vaccine to be at least 50 percent effective.

A 75 percent efficacy would imply that out of 100 people who receive a vaccine treatment, 75 of them would not get the disease. Even for those who do contract the virus, a vaccine could help produce an immune response making the illness less severe than if someone is not vaccinated. 

Redfield went on to say that “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.”


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Published on Sep 16, 2020