Donald Trump said the USA "essentially" has the coronavirus vaccine and would soon announce distribution plans for 100 million doses by end of the year, with enough for all Americans to be vaccinated by April.
In May this year, Trump even threatened to halt funding to the WHO.
He said distribution of a vaccine will begin within 24 hours of it being approved by federal health regulators. Dr. Robert Redfield had told lawmakers earlier this week that he thought a vaccine wouldn't be "generally available to the American public" until "late second quarter, third quarter of 2021".
It was a stance that Mr Trump denied on Wednesday, saying the public health expert had "made a mistake" or was "confused" by the question.
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"Number one, it's not more effective than a vaccine and I called him about that", Trump said. "A Covid-19 vaccine is the thing that will get Americans back to normal everyday life", he said.
He said the first doses will go out to high-priority persons right after the Food and Drug Administration approves a vaccine candidate. Pfizer has promised 100 million shots worldwide in the same timeframe, but has not disclosed how many would go to the U.S. Executives from both companies have suggested they could have data for emergency use authorization as early as October, although clinical trial blueprints released yesterday by the two firms suggest the first trial data won't be available then.
Sanofi SA and GlaxoSmithKline Plc are also working on developing a vaccine they say could be authorized next year.
That answer caught Trump's ire as he described the leading medical official in his own administration as "confused," and pushed a much more aggressive timeline for later this year, throwing out different potential months the vaccine could land. "And then we will ramp up the manufacturing of vaccine doses to be able to, based on our plans, have enough vaccine to immunize the United States population by the middle of 2021".
"We think that sometime in the very near future we'll have it", Mr. Trump said Friday.