In a major step back from his previous promises that a coronavirus vaccine would be ready for the general public before the end of the year, President Donald Trump on Friday said most Americans won’t get a vaccine until April 2021.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room … [+] of the White House September 18, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Trump has repeatedly said that he expects a vaccine to be approved in October and have it be available to the general public “immediately” after that. “We’re not looking to say, ‘Gee, in six months, we’re going to start giving it to the general public,’” the president said Wednesday.
At a press briefing Friday, Trump backtracked from an end-of-year timeline and admitted, “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 even at that later stage, the delivery will go as fast as it comes.”
Controversial adviser Scott Atlas, who is not an infectious disease expert, took center stage at the briefing to further explain the administration’s timeline, saying that first responders and high risk people will have the ability to take the vaccine by January with more widespread availability after that.
Trump follows CDC Director Robert Redfield and Dr. Anthony Fauci who both, earlier this week, offered a more cautious timeline, saying that widespread availability will likely occur in the late second or third quarter of 2021.
The Trump administration’s main vehicle for vaccine development is Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership to develop and deliver vaccines as fast as possible. The administration has already committed to buying doses of several vaccine candidates and when one gets approved, they will be delivered around the country through the military.
Dozens of doctors and researchers affiliated with Stanford University denounced Atlas in an open letter last week because “many of his opinions and statements run counter to established science.” Atlas’ attorney threatened to sue the letter’s signatories for defamation if they didn’t retract it, Politico reported Thursday. Atlas is a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank.