The exchange is just the latest example of a president publicly discrediting his own health officials about the coronavirus pandemic’s response and a clash with government scientists on everything from the evolving threat of the virus to the vaccine schedule.
It also comes when Trump continues to hold large rallies indoors and largely avoids wearing a face mask, despite CDC recommendations. Redfield said the president must embrace facials to set an example for the public, although Trump has again questioned their effectiveness.
Redfield, shortly after Trump̵
Trump also opposed Redfield’s remarks to Congress that the general public in the United States is unlikely to have access to a coronavirus vaccine until next summer or fall, predicting a faster schedule than his health officials.
“It’s just false information,” Trump said. “When he said that, I believe he was confused. … It will be a much faster process of spread.”
Trump told reporters that once the FDA approves the vaccine, his administration plans to distribute up to 100 million doses by the end of the year, with health workers and vulnerable groups being given priority. He added that the general public will have access to the vaccine soon after. Most vaccines under development will require two doses per person.
Scott Atlas, who is advising the president on the coronavirus, told reporters during the briefing that the administration estimates that about 700 million vaccines could be distributed to the public by the end of March, offering a more optimistic schedule than Redfield.
Just hours earlier, Redfield told the Senate Appropriations Committee that it would take about six to nine months to vaccinate the U.S. public from the date the vaccine was approved. And the head of Operation Warp Speed, the government’s vaccine acceleration program, wrote late last month that up to 300 million doses of vaccines could be “deployed by mid-2021,” similar to Redfield’s schedule.
The CDC released on Wednesday its ambitious plan for the distribution and administration of Covid-19 vaccines, including the HHS, as well as the Department of Defense. Doses may be available as early as November for specific populations, although final decisions on who will be prioritized will be made along the way. Atlas said that the minority population and the elderly will be among these groups.
This is not the first time Trump has separated his director from the CDC. In April, Trump, who downplayed the threat of a bad flu season, asked Redfield to clarify publicly the comments he warned that the flu could be particularly challenging in the wake of the pandemic. However, Redfield confirmed his comments and continued to warn of the dangers of a bad flu season this year.
The president’s reprimand against Redfield also comes as his administration has been criticized for interfering with CDC weekly scientific reports used to update and inform medical and scientific communities, state and local health departments and the public about the evolving coronavirus pandemic. .