The White House and the CDC Have Very Different Timelines on a COVID Vaccine

The White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have outlined fairly different timelines for a potential COVID-19 vaccine being ready for the American public.

On Wednesday, CDC Director Robert Redfield spoke at a hearing before a Senate subcommittee on Capitol Hill and suggested that a vaccine for the novel coronavirus won't be widely available to Americans until the middle of next year.

"I think there will be vaccine that will initially be available sometime between November and December, but very limited supply, and it will have to be prioritized," Redfield told lawmakers. "If you're asking me when is it going to be generally available to the American public so we can begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life, I think we're probably looking at late second quarter, third quarter 2021."

In comparison, on Tuesday President Donald Trump suggested that a potential coronavirus vaccine could be ready much earlier.

While speaking during an ABC News Town Hall, the president said: "We're very close to having a vaccine."

"If you want to know the truth, the previous administration would have taken perhaps years to have a vaccine because of the FDA and all the approvals. And we're within weeks of getting it... Could be three weeks, four weeks," Trump added.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows gave a timeline similar to that of the president while speaking to reporters in Washington D.C. Wednesday, telling them a vaccine could be available "potentially by the end of September."

Neither Trump or Meadows commented on how many people could get the vaccine.

#BREAKING: WH Chief of Staff Mark Meadows says vaccine could be ready "potentially by the end of September": "We have a real hope of getting something that actually works."

— The Hill (@thehill) September 16, 2020

During a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany contradicted Trump and Meadows, saying the administration still believes that one could be ready by the end of the year.

When she was asked about Redfield's comments, McEnany added, "We do believe that it will be widely available by the end of the year."

"It's our goal to have at least 100 million in production by the end of the year," McEnany said.

The White House declined to comment on the differing timelines given by McEnany, Meadows and the president.

Coronavirus Vaccines
Three potential coronavirus, COVID-19, vaccines are kept in a tray at Novavax labs in Gaithersburg, Maryland on March 20, 2020, one of the labs developing a vaccine for the coronavirus, COVID-19. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty

At least three vaccines have made it to Phase 3 clinical trials in the U.S., including one from Pfizer and the German company BioNTech.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla stated Sunday on CBS' Face the Nation that he expects to know if the vaccine is effective by the end of October but will have to wait for approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before it could be distributed.

"I cannot say what the FDA will do. But I think it's a likely scenario, and we are preparing for it," Bourla said.

Pfizer is among several pharmaceutical companies under contract with the U.S. government to create vaccines for distribution among Americans.

On Wednesday, the federal government announced a new plan to provide COVID-19 vaccines to all Americans, given that a safe and effective one is developed.

Federal health agencies and the Department of Defense sent a report to congress and an accompanying "play book" for states and localities, which provided complex plans for a vaccine campaign to begin gradually in January, or possibly later in 2021. According to the Associated Press, the vaccine will be free of charge, as billions of dollars in taxpayer funding was approved by Congress and allocated by Trump's administration.

Newsweek reached out to the CDC for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.