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President Trump claimed at a press briefing on Wednesday that CDC director Robert Redfield was wrong when he testified to Congress that a coronavirus vaccine won't be available for widespread distribution until the second or third quarter of 2021.

Why it matters: Trump has already faced criticism for allegations that his administration has politicized the coronavirus response and is seeking rapid approval and distribution of a vaccine in order to boost his re-election campaign.

  • Trump went on later in the briefing to say Redfield was wrong when he said that masks are "more guaranteed" to protect against the coronavirus than a vaccine: "As far as the masks are concerned, he made a mistake."
  • The president's contradiction of Redfield, who he said was probably "confused," may further erode public trust.

The big picture: A vaccine has not been submitted for the FDA to review, and even that may not happen by Trump's aggressive October estimate for distribution. Whenever a vaccine is approved, it will take several more months to manufacture enough of it to begin vaccinating the general public.

  • Redfield testified on Wednesday that a vaccine could be available for first responders and vulnerable populations by November or December, but that it will take six to nine months before it can be distributed nationally.
  • Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser to Operation Warp Speed, the project tasked with developing a vaccine by January, has also said it is "extremely unlikely" that widespread distribution will be possible by October or November.

What he's saying: "I think [Redfield] made a mistake when he said that. It's just incorrect information. I called him, and he didn't tell me that. I think he got the message maybe confused, maybe it was stated incorrectly," Trump said.

  • "No, we are ready to go. ... It could be announced in October, it could be announced a little bit after October. Once we go, we are ready."
  • Asked about his timeline for distribution to the general public, Trump responded: "Immediately. When we go we go. We are not looking to say, gee in six months we're going to start giving it to the general public."
  • "It was an incorrect statement. I saw the statement, and I called him and said what do you mean by that? And I think he just made a mistake. I think he misunderstood the question, probably."

The other side: "I 100% believe in the importance of vaccines and the importance in particular of a #COVID19 vaccine. A COVID-19 vaccine is the thing that will get Americans back to normal everyday life," Redfield tweeted after the press conference.

  • "The best defense we currently have against this virus are the important mitigation efforts of wearing a mask, washing your hands, social distancing and being careful about crowds."

Joe Biden also responded on Twitter: "When I said I trust vaccines, and I trust the scientists, but I don't trust Donald Trump — this is what I meant."

Go deeper ... Biden: "I trust vaccines, I trust scientists, but I don’t trust Donald Trump"

Go deeper

Dec 24, 2020 - Health

Mexico becomes first Latin American country to vaccinate against COVID

A nurse was the first person in Mexico to receive the vcaccine. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty

Mexico became the first Latin American country to begin coronavirus vaccinations, amid a surge in cases, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The serum arrives as Mexico's hospitals reach a breaking point. The country tallies over 1.3 million COVID-19 cases and 120,000 deaths, per John Hopkins University data, though actual numbers are believed to be much higher.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Dec 23, 2020 - Health

Why Americans will demand to be able to prove they're vaccinated

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

You've received a coronavirus vaccination — but can you prove it? The answer to that question will help determine how the global economy functions for the next few years.

Why it matters: The federal government will probably neither mandate nor encourage digital immunity passports or other proofs of vaccination. But privately-operated digital certificates are already being developed — and U.S. law means that anybody who gets vaccinated here should be able to obtain the proof they need.

Jan. 6 committee subpoenas Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell

Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot released its latest round of subpoenas on Tuesday evening, this time focusing on several of former President Trump's lawyers, including Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and former adviser Boris Epshteyn.

Why it matters: The panel said the four individuals subpoenaed were involved in efforts publicly promote Trump's unfounded claims of election fraud as well as efforts to "disrupt or delay" the certification of the election's results.