He said it would be rolled out for general public use as soon as it was ready, undermining evidence given to Congress by the director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, who he called “confused”.
Mr Trump also disagreed with Dr Robert Redfield about the effectiveness of protective masks — which the president recommends but almost never wears — and said he had telephoned Dr Redfield to tell him so.
Earlier in the day, the CDC sent all 50 states a “playbook” for distribution of a vaccine to all Americans free of cost when one becomes available.
Dr Redfield told the congressional hearing that health care workers, first responders and others at high risk would get the vaccine first, perhaps in January or even late this year, but it was unlikely to be widely available before summer next year.
Dr Redfield also spoke emphatically of the importance of everyone wearing protective masks to stop the pandemic, which has killed nearly 197,000 Americans.
“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,” Dr Redfield said.
Mr Trump would have none of that from the CDC director.
“Vaccine is much more effective than the mask,” he declared.
“We think we can start sometime in October.”
One of his recently added advisers, Dr Scott Atlas, said as many as 700 million doses could be available by the end of March.
Mr Trump made the prediction even though the vaccine is still being tested in human subjects, and some health experts have said they believe a safe and highly effective vaccine is several months way.
Dr Redfield said some states were not ready to distribute so much vaccine and some US$6 billion in new funding would be needed to get the nation prepared.
However, Mr Trump said: “We’re ready to move, and I think it will be full distribution.”
Dr Redfield said any vaccine available in November or December would be in “very limited supply” and reserved for first responders.
Mr Trump said simply that Dr Redfield made a mistake and had shared incorrect information.
From his home state of Delaware, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he trusted what the scientists had to say about a potential vaccine — but not the president.
Mr Biden has said he would take a vaccine “tomorrow” if it were available but he would want to “see what the scientists said” first.
Among the highlights of the playbook released by the CDC:
- People will need two doses, 21 to 28 days apart. Double-dose vaccines will have to come from the same drug-maker. There could be several vaccines from different manufacturers approved and available.
- The vaccine will be free of charge, thanks to billions of dollars in taxpayer funding approved by Congress and allocated by the Trump administration.
- States and local communities will need to devise precise plans for receiving and locally distributing vaccines, some of which will require special handling such as refrigeration or freezing. States and cities have a month to submit plans.
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