Donald Trump has repeatedly contradicted the senior US health official about the schedule for distributing the Coronavirus vaccine to the general public and the effectiveness of masks in stopping the spread of the disease.
The US President said Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was wrong when he told Congress that a vaccine would not be widely available until the middle of next year.
“We think we can start [distributing a vaccine] Sometime in October, mid-October. It could be a little later. “As soon as it is given the green light,” he told a news conference late on Wednesday.
Mr. Trump added: “I think he made a mistake and said it was just incorrect information … I think he got the message confused, it may have been mentioned incorrectly. No, we are ready to go straight away.”
He said he thinks Dr. Redfield might also be wrong when he suggested that wearing a face mask might be more effective in stopping the spread of the virus than the vaccine, depending on the level of immunity it gives to people who have been vaccinated.
“When I called Robert today, I said to him: What is the mask?” Mr. Trump said, “I think I answered that question incorrectly.
The president said 100 million doses of the vaccine will be available by the end of the year. Scott Atlas, the president’s coronavirus advisor, said 700 million doses of the vaccine will be available by March.
During his testimony before Congress, Dr. Redfield urged Americans to keep wearing masks, adding: “We have clear scientific evidence that they work. I might go further to say this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me from Covid than if I had been taking the Covid vaccine.”
He added, “If I don’t get an immune response, the vaccine won’t protect me. This face mask.”
Although Mr. Trump said Dr. Redfield “misunderstood the question,” the CDC director’s statements about the relative benefits of masks versus vaccines were unconfirmed.
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Shortly after Trump’s press conference wrapped up, Dr. Redfield made a statement on Twitter saying he believed “100 percent” of the importance of the Covid-19 vaccine.
He added, “The Covid-19 vaccine is the thing that will bring Americans back to their normal daily lives. Our best defense currently against this virus is the important mitigation efforts of wearing a mask, washing your hands, social distancing and being alert about crowds.”
Dr. Redfield did not say he was wrong, or take up his view of not having a vaccine widely available until mid-2021.
The president’s rebuke to Dr. Redfield comes amid broader tensions between Trump’s top political advisers and government scholars responsible for shaping his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier on Wednesday, Michael Caputo, the head of communications at the US Department of Health, resigned after government scientists were accused of being part of a criminal plot to undermine the president.
The ministry said on Wednesday that Caputo will remain out of office for 60 days, days after he recorded a video on Facebook in which he accused public health professionals of forming a seditious “resistance unit” to harm Mr. Trump and aid his Democratic rival, Joe Biden. .
Public health officials, including Dr. Redfield, criticized Mr. Caputo’s video.
“There are scientists working in this government who don’t want America to improve, not until Joe Biden becomes president,” Mr. Caputo said in the video. But he also indicated that he was suffering from health problems, saying his “mental health definitely failed”.
On Wednesday, Mr. Caputo blamed a “lymph problem” for the stress he said he was suffering from, adding that he needed to take medical leave to “pursue the necessary checks”.
He reportedly apologized to staff for his comments.
Dr. Redfield told a Senate committee that he was “deeply saddened” by Caputo’s comments. Hours later, the Ministry of Health announced the temporary departure of Mr. Caputo, saying, “Michael Caputo decided to take leave to focus on his health and the well-being of his family.”
The ministry said Paul Alexander, a health professor appointed by Caputo to advise him on medical issues and who was accused of trying to interfere with CDC publications, would be leaving his post.