NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A COVID-19 vaccine could be available by November, but not for everyone, said CDC director Robert Redfield while testifying in front of a U.S. Senate subcommittee Wednesday.
Redfield said, it will likely take until next summer to get the vaccine to general public. “To get back to our regular life, I think, we’re probable thinking late second quarter, third quarter, 2021.”
That speed of vaccine development would be unprecedented. President Trump, though, went further, hours later, contradicting Redfield to say he expects wide distribution even sooner.
“I think he made a mistake when he said that,” the president told reporters at a press conference. “We are ready to go immediately as the vaccine is announced.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Defense jointly released documents Wednesday outlining the Trump administration’s vaccine distribution strategy.
It shows government agencies prepared for the vaccine to, at first, be available in limited quantities and accessible to limited groups of people.
“I think it’s going to be a staged roll out. We’re talking about the necessity to vaccinate an entire country the size of the United States. That’s not going to happen overnight,” said Dr. Mark Casanova, president of the Dallas County Medical Society.
The federal government plans to offer detailed guidance on which populations should receive priority access, but will leave it up to state and local health authorities to make decisions for their areas.
Casanova says the first groups will need to be those most at risk, either because they are high-risk individuals, like the elderly or immunocompromised, or because they are in high risk settings, like healthcare workers.
During his testimony, Dr. Redfield also described masks as being possibly more effective than the vaccine. Dr. Casanova agreed, the arrival of a vaccine will not be the time to stop wearing masks. “We’re going to need to be using masks in conjunction with wide spread vaccination until we’re at a point that we’re confident that we’ve suppressed bio transmission enough that we can get back to normal life,” he said.
According to the strategy released, the vaccine will be provided free of charge with no out of pocked cost to patients. Many of the vaccines in development will also require two doses be given 3 – 4 weeks apart.