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"

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8 hours ago - Health

Trump's health secretary asserts control over all new rules

HHS Secretary Alex Azar and President Donald Trump. Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Heath and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar wrote a memo this week giving him authority over all new rules and banning any of the health agencies, including the FDA, from signing any "regarding the nation’s foods, medicines, medical devices and other products," the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The story further underscores reporting that health and scientific agencies are undergoing a deep politicization as the Trump administration races to develop a coronavirus vaccine, as Axios' Caitlin Owens has reported. Dr. Peter Lurie, a former associate commissioner of the FDA, told the Times the Azar memo amounted to a "power grab."

Updated 18 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 30,873,714 — Total deaths: 958,383— Total recoveries: 21,103,559Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 6,788,343 — Total deaths: 199,421 — Total recoveries: 2,577,446 — Total tests: 94,211,463Map.
  3. Politics: Testing czar on Trump's CDC contradictions: "Everybody is right" Ex-FDA chief: Career scientists won't be "easily cowed" by political vaccine pressure
  4. Education: What we overlooked in the switch to remote learning
  5. Health: The dwindling chances of eliminating COVID-19.
  6. World: England sets £10,000 fine for breaking self-isolation rules — The countries painting their pandemic recoveries green.
Updated 4 hours ago - Health

7 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week

Data: Compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Seven states set new highs last week for coronavirus infections recorded in a single day, according to the COVID Tracking Project and state health departments. Wisconsin and Nebraska surpassed records set the previous week.

Why it matters: Problem spots are sticking in the Midwest, although the U.S. is moving in the right direction overall after massive infection spikes this summer.