President Donald Trump on Wednesday lashed out at Centers for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield over his recent comments regarding the coronavirus pandemic. After Redfield contradicted the president regarding the timeline for a vaccine, suggesting one will not be widely available until mid-to-late 2021, and indicated that masks may be a more effective protection against coronavirus than any potential vaccine, Trump pushed back against Redfield, suggesting that he was "confused" in his comments.
Just hours after Redfield made the remarks in Senate testimony on Wednesday, and only after White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany argued at a briefing: "We do believe that it will be widely available by the end of the year. Trump doubled down on his statements regarding vaccines, speaking to reporters and stating how he believes Redfield "made a mistake when he said that," adding "it's just incorrect information," according to NBC News. He claimed "under no circumstance will it be as late as the doctor said," noting "we're all set to distribute immediately" and that a vaccine "could be in October, or in November."
Trump also addressed Redfield's claims that face coverings re the most "powerful public health tool" the country has against COVID-19. During his testimony, Redfield has stated, "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," explaining that "we have clear scientific evidence they work, and they are our best defense." Trump, however, rejected that, alleging that Redfield "made a mistake" in his testimony" and that a "vaccine is much more effective than the mask." When asked why the American people should trust him over the director of the CDC, Trump responded, "because of the great job" he's done.
The contradictions have led to some backlash, with Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, lamenting over the politicization of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Appearing on Good Morning America Thursday, according to The Guardian, stating that the politicization has created "a very difficult situation," as "we've got to let the CDC scientists speak and share their scientific expertise with us." Jha added that "the doctor is right."
Meanwhile, following the president's remarks, the CDC spokesman issued a statement seemingly backing up the president's claim and clarifying Redfield's comments. According to CNN, the information explained that Redfield "was not referring to the time period when Covid-19 vaccine doses would be made available to all Americans."