Watch live: Trump says CDC director “made a mistake” when he said vaccine won’t be widely available until at least summer 2021

President Trump contradicted Centers for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield’s estimate on when a COVID-19 vaccine would be widely available, insisting that he thought Redfield “made a mistake” when he told Congress Wednesday a vaccine wouldn’t be widely available until the second or third quarter of 2021.

On Wednesday, Redfield testified that a coronavirus vaccine will be “generally available to the American public” in the “late second quarter, third quarter 2021.”

But Mr. Trump, without stating his grounds for contradicting the CDC director, told reporters Wednesday that Redfield made a mistake. 

“No I think he made a mistake when he said that,” Mr. Trump said of Redfield’s testimony.

“I believe he was confused,” the president added. 

Scott Atlas, the controversial doctor advising the president on coronavirus, told reporters that the administration can help distribute 700 million vaccines by the end of the first quarter, which would be by the end of March 2021. 

Mr. Trump also said the death toll would have been much higher without mitigation, and said the death toll wouldn’t be so bad if the “blue states” were subtracted from the equation. 

How to watch President Trump’s news conference

  • What: President Trump holds news conference
  • Date: September 16, 2020 
  • Time: 5 p.m. ET
  • Location: The White House
  • Online stream: Live on CBSN – in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device 

The president also cast doubt on the effectiveness of masks Tuesday night during a town hall hosted by ABC News, claiming some people don’t like them. Pressed on who those people are, then president responded, “Waiters.” 

Meanwhile, Redfield suggested Wednesday that masks might even be more effective than a vaccine for some people.

“I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine,” Redfield said at a hearing Wednesday. “…If I don’t get an immune response, the vaccine’s not going to protect me. This face mask will.”