Story at a glance

  • The CDC director testified on Wednesday a vaccine would likely not be widely available to the public until mid-2021.
  • President Trump pushed back on that claim, saying distribution would happen much sooner.
  • Fauci weighed in on the dispute Thursday during an interview with WTOP.

The nation’s top infectious diseases expert and White House Coronavirus Task Force adviser is weighing in on the contradictory timelines for a possible coronavirus vaccine coming out of the Trump administration. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield told lawmakers during a hearing Wednesday he didn’t expect a potential vaccine for COVID-19 to be broadly available to the general public until the second or third quarter of 2021. He said it would first be made available to high-risk patients and health care workers. 


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“I think there will be vaccine that will initially be available some time between November and December, but very limited supply, and it will have to be prioritized,” Redfield said. 

Hours later, President Trump insisted that the CDC director made a “mistake” during his testimony when he said a vaccine wouldn’t be widely available until the second or third quarter of 2021, and said that “under no circumstance will it be as late as the doctor said.” 

“We are on track to deliver and distribute the vaccine in a very very safe and effective manner. And we think we can start sometime in October,” Trump said Wednesday. 

During an interview Thursday with WTOP, Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said both Redfield and Trump were right in many respects, although he largely backed up the CDC director's estimate. 


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“The president was saying is that it is entirely conceivable that we will have an answer (on a vaccine) by October. My projection is that it would likely be November or December,” Fauci told WTOP. 

“Let’s say it is November, you could start in December, and you could start giving individuals who are in the high-risk (category), as well as health care workers, vaccines already starting in December into January, February. So, many of the people who actually would need the vaccine the most, the more vulnerable, could already be getting them in the beginning of the year,” he said. 

“But if you want to ask the question, what about getting everybody vaccinated so that we can say vaccines have now had a significant impact on how we are able to act in the sense of going back to some degree of normality — that very likely would be in the first half to the third quarter of 2021,” Fauci added.  


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Published on Sep 18, 2020