Mr Trump and his allies have clashed repeatedly with public health officials over how to tackle the coronavirus, and on Friday the president insisted he often knows more about these issues than he does. experts such as Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While he agrees with Dr Redfield’s assessment that a vaccine will be widely available between April and September, he told a White House press conference that he also believes it could be much earlier than that.
“We will have manufactured at least 100 million doses of vaccine by the end of the year,” Mr. Trump said. “Hundreds of millions of doses will be available each month, and we plan to have enough vaccines for every American by April.”
When asked if he thinks he knows more about these issues than experts such as Dr Redfield, Mr Trump replied, “In many cases, I know. ”
Mr Trump made his comments shortly after the CDC rolled back controversial guidelines put in place last month that testing was not necessarily recommended for people without symptoms, even if they had come into contact with it. a person infected with the virus.
Officials told the Financial Times that the guidelines were decided by politicians in the health department who hoped to please the president. Mr Trump said reducing the number of tests would reduce the official number of cases in the United States, which in turn would encourage states to lift restrictions that have weighed on economic activity.
The president’s screening came hours before data showed the United States had its biggest daily jump in coronavirus infections in two weeks, with a total of 19 states reporting more than 1,000 new cases each.
According to data from the Covid Tracking Project, an additional 47,486 people in the United States have tested positive for the disease, while the national death toll has increased by 901. The total number of deaths in southern states since the start of the pandemic reached 65,332 on Friday, exceeding the death toll for the northeastern United States for the first time in six months.
The CDC said on Friday it was reversing its position so that people who have come in contact with someone confirmed to have coronavirus but do not show symptoms are recommended for testing again.
The change came days after a close ally of Mr Trump resigned his post at the Department of Health after accusing CDC scientists of being part of a plot to undermine the president.
Michael Caputo said on Wednesday he was taking a two-month leave for health reasons after hosting a live Facebook event in which he accused people at the CDC of forming a “resistance unit” to harm Mr. Trump and help his Democratic presidential rival. , Joe Biden.
Mr Caputo reportedly apologized to staff for his comments on Tuesday, a day before he announced he would be stepping down from his post, blaming his comments on the stress caused by a “lymphatic problem”.
Mr Caputo’s resignation came shortly after Mr Trump publicly contradicted Dr Redfield over comments from the CDC chief that wearing a mask might be a better way to protect against the virus than get a vaccine.
The president, who was keen to discuss the chances of a rapid and effective vaccine and to denounce the effectiveness of the masks, called Dr. Redfield “simply incorrect”.
Additional reporting by Peter Wells in New York