President Trump on Friday said that the U.S. expects to have enough coronavirus vaccines for every American by April.
“We’ll have manufactured at least 100 million vaccine doses before the end of the year and likely much more than that,” Trump said at an afternoon press conference. “Hundreds of millions of doses will be available every month, and we expect to have enough vaccines for every American by April. And again I’ll say that even at that later stage a delivery will go as fast it comes they can deliver.”
Despite Trump saying “three vaccines are already in the final stage,” there is still no certainty when a safe and effective vaccine will indeed be approved for the American public.
The claim from the president put him closer to the timeline the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testified to lawmakers about earlier this week. Trump challenged Dr. Robert Redfield's words during a tumultuous press conference Wednesday by claiming that his timeline on when a COVID-19 vaccine would be ready was “incorrect.” Redfield had told lawmakers earlier this week that he thought a vaccine wouldn’t be “generally available to the American public” until “late second quarter, third quarter of 2021.”
That answer caught Trump’s ire as he described the leading medical official in his own administration as “confused,” and pushed a much more aggressive timeline for later this year, throwing out different potential months the vaccine could land.
“When he said it, I believe he was confused… We’re ready to go as soon as the vaccine is approved,” Trump insisted Wednesday. “We’re not going to say ‘in six months,’ we’re going to start giving it to the general public.”
When a reporter pressed Trump about his timeline given the April date he had just offered, the president deferred to Dr. Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist advising the president on the virus.
Atlas reiterated Trump’s point about having “over 100 million doses manufactured,” by the end of the year. People on the “prioritized list including high risk, including first responders, will have the ability to take the vaccine, no one’s being mandated to be vaccinated, at the latest in January.”
“And as we said....there will be hundreds of millions of doses delivered for people to take it during the first quarter and so that by April every single American who wants to be vaccinated will have the ability to be vaccinated,” Atlas said. “It’s not a forced vaccination of course.”
Atlas taking the question—rather than leading health officials who often spoke at the former White House Coronavirus Task Force briefings earlier in the pandemic like Dr. Deborah Birx or Dr. Anthony Fauci, was another sign of how much the public face of the White House response to the pandemic has changed. Neither Birx nor Fauci were in attendance in the briefing room Friday.
-With additional reporting from Allison Quinn