President Donald Trump said on Friday he expects to have available enough doses of a coronavirus vaccine for every American by April. “Hundreds of millions of doses will be available every month, and we expect to have enough vaccines for every American by April,” Trump told a news conference.
He said distribution of a vaccine will begin within 24 hours of it being approved by federal health regulators.
“In a short time we’ll have a safe and effective vaccine and we’ll defeat the virus,” Trump said.
He has previously said a vaccine could be approved in October, an ambitious timeline that some experts have said is unlikely to be met.
Trump’s timetable for a vaccine matches an optimistic forecast from a senior Health and Human Services official, Paul Mango, earlier this week.
But it is more ambitious than those of drug industry executives and other health officials including Anthony Fauci and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, who have said most Americans shouldn’t expect a shot before mid-2021.
“We are under contract to get enough doses, and we have line of sight right now into the clinical trials such that we believe” the Food and Drug Administration will approve shots before the end of the year, Mango said in an interview. “The combination of those two will permit us to vaccinate every American before the end of first quarter 2021.”
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, was less optimistic than Mango, in Senate testimony given Wednesday.
“If you’re asking me when is it going to be available to the American public,” Redfield said to a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing, “I think we’re probably looking at late second quarter, third quarter 2021,” which would suggest some time in late spring or summer of next year.
While it’s possible to meet a first-quarter 2021 goal, it’s not likely, said Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in an interview for the Bloomberg Equality Summit to take place on Sept. 23. It’s more likely widespread vaccination will be available later in 2021, he said.
“It would be aspirational to do that,” Fauci said regarding a first-quarter time line. “But I think it’s more toward the middle to the end of the year that you can get people vaccinated. It depends on what the vaccine is.”
Fauci said he is “reasonably confident” that at least one vaccine will be available by November or December. Widescale adoption of a vaccine, along with continuing — though less intense — reliance on social distancing, and mask-wearing, will allow a return to near-normal by the end of 2021, he said.