Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that while the government and the private sector are committing their "full power" to developing a coronavirus vaccine, it will not be the sole determinant of Americans' ability to return to normal life.

Why it matters: President Trump claimed at a press conference last week, "Vaccine or no vaccine, we're back." Azar explained that what Trump meant is that "traditional public health tools," like testing, surveillance and new treatments, will contribute to a "multifactorial approach" that allows the U.S. to safely reopen.

Yes, but: Most health experts agree that, despite what Trump says, the U.S. does not currently have the testing capacity or contact tracing infrastructure necessary to reopen the country without a possible surge in cases.

  • Anthony Fauci warned in testimony last week that the U.S. will "without a doubt" have more coronavirus infections and deaths in the fall and winter if effective testing, contact tracing and social distancing measures are not scaled up to adequate levels
  • Adm. Brett Giroir, the federal government's testing coordinator, says that the U.S. should have the capacity to test more than 25 million people per month by August or September. He claimed that as of now, states have enough testing to begin a gradual "phase one" reopening.

The big picture: In terms of developing a vaccine, Trump's claims that the U.S. will have one by the end of the year is more ambitious than most experts' projections.

  • Rick Bright, the former director of a key vaccine agency, testified last week that even a 12- to 18-month timeline is "aggressive" and that the U.S. does not have a plan to distribute a vaccine for the coronavirus in a "fair and equitable manner" when one becomes available.

Go deeper: The race to make vaccines faster

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Dave Lawler, author of World
Aug 25, 2020 - World

Countries put their populations first in scramble for COVID vaccines

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The race is on to test and produce billions of doses of the myriad coronavirus vaccines currently in development — and to determine how they will be distributed if approved for use.

Take three pieces of news from the last 48 hours.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Chris Christie: Wear a mask "or you may regret it — as I did" — Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted relief bill.
  2. Business: New state unemployment filings fall.
  3. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  4. Health: Many U.S. deaths were avoidable — The pandemic is getting worse again.
  5. Education: Boston and Chicago send students back home for online learning.
  6. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.
Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."