President Donald Trump has vowed that COVID-19 vaccines will be available for "for every American" by April, escalating already ambitious goals to address a pandemic that has killed nearly 200,000 people in the United States.
Trump, who is seeking reelection in November, told reporters on Friday, "Hundreds of millions of doses will be available every month, and we expect to have enough vaccines for every American by April."
“We are again very advanced on the vaccine, we think that sometime in the very near future we’ll have it,” he said. “We’re ... I would say, I think I can say, years ahead of schedule what it would be if it were an administration other than this one.”
Trump’s comments came two days after he said the US government could start distributing a coronavirus vaccine as early as October.
However, CDC Director Robert Redfield said a vaccine would not be widely available until the summer or early fall of next year. Trump said Redfield was mistaken.
“I think he made a mistake when he said that. It’s just incorrect information, and I called him, and he didn’t tell me that, and I think he got the message maybe confused, maybe it was stated incorrectly,” Trump said Wednesday.
There are currently three drugmakers in late-stage of testing for potential vaccines. Earlier this week, the CDC outlined a sweeping plan to make a vaccine free to all Americans if and when one is approved for public use.
Public health experts have previously said that most Americans likely will not get immunized with a coronavirus vaccine until the middle of next year.
The United States is the world's hardest-hit country by the novel coronavirus and Trump has been widely criticized for his mishandling of the health crisis.
The US accounts for more than 198,000 of the world's 947,000 deaths since the virus first emerged in China last December, while more than 30.2 million cases have been registered.
US media said the president had received multiple heads-up about the looming catastrophe as the coronavirus started to spread, but failed to mobilize for a major pandemic. Trump instead engaged in a blame game with China and his political rivals.
Trump sees the swift approval of a vaccine as vital to immunizing his reelection campaign against criticism by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who is leading in polls in the run-up to the November 3 vote.
Biden has criticized Trump for his "negligence" in handling the coronavirus pandemic, plunging the nation into recession.
"This is a recession created by Donald Trump's negligence, and he is unfit for this job as a consequence of it," Biden said earlier this month.