When exactly are we all going to get the coronavirus vaccine? It depends on who you ask in the federal government.
Here’s a roundup, compiled from Globe wire services and major media reports, of the flurry of messages from President Trump and other officials in recent days:
Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Redfield said at a congressional hearing Wednesday that any vaccine would be provided first to people most vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and supplies will increase over time, with Americans who are lower priority for the protection are offered the shot more gradually.
“There will be vaccine that will initially be available sometime between November and December, but very limited supply and will have to be prioritized,” Redfield said Wednesday. “If you’re asking me when is it going to be generally available to the American public so we can begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life, I think we’re probably looking at late second quarter, third quarter 2021.”
The second quarter ends in June, and the third quarter begins in July.
After Redfield’s remarks were criticized by President Trump (see below), the CDC initially tried to walk back Redfield’s statement, then dropped the effort, STAT News reports.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said in a recent interview with CNN, “It won’t be until we get into 2021 that you’ll have hundreds of millions of doses," noting "the logistics, constraints in vaccinating large numbers of people.”
“It’s going to take months to get enough people vaccinated to have an umbrella of immunity over the community so that you don’t have to worry about easy transmission,” he said.
Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services and one of the senior leaders of the Warp Speed program, which is intended to speed development of the vaccine
Mango said Wednesday that every American could be vaccinated by the end of March.
Mango said that there are enough doses in production and that trials are moving at a speed so that “the combination of those two will permit us to vaccinate every American before the end of first quarter 2021.”
Mango told Bloomberg News that the administration is confident it will have 100 million doses of an effective vaccine for elderly people, who are more vulnerable to the virus, available before the end of the year. He also stressed that “there’s never a 100% guarantee” that timelines will be met.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the top scientist on Operation Warp Speed
“We may have enough vaccine by the end of the year to immunize probably, I would say, between 20 and 25 million people,” Slaoui told NPR this month. “And then we will ramp up the manufacturing of vaccine doses to be able to, based on our plans, have enough vaccine to immunize the US population by the middle of 2021.”
Scott Atlas, White House coronavirus adviser
Noting that the administration on Wednesday circulated a vaccine distribution strategy to states and others. Atlas said the plan anticipates that “no later than January, all the top-priority people will be able to receive the vaccine,” with other Americans receiving it starting soon after that.
President Donald Trump
Trump, who has painted a rosy picture of the pandemic that has killed nearly 200,000 Americans, disputed what Redfield said.
“I think he made a mistake when he said that,” said the controversial, scandal-plagued Republican, who faces a strong election challenge from Democrat Joe Biden. “It’s just incorrect information.” A vaccine would go “to the general public immediately,” the president insisted, and “under no circumstance will it be as late as the doctor said.”
“We are ready at a much faster level than he said. ... We’re ready to distribute immediately to a vast section of our country,” Trump said, reiterating a recent talking point that a vaccine could be ready to distribute beginning as early as mid-October.
Material from Globe wire services was used in this report.
Martin Finucane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.