President Trump says that a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine could be ready as soon as mid October.
"We're ready to move, and I think it will be full distribution," Trump said Wednesday.
Trump's projection and comments contradicted the timeline that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield set out to Congress earlier in the day.
The CDC has distributed a "playbook" to all 50 U.S. states, detailing what widespread distribution of a vaccine will look like. Redfield told Congress that frontline health care workers and other high risk patients would be the first recipients of an approved vaccine, but even the initial round of dosages would not likely be available until January.
According to the CDC, most vaccines will require a double dose, spaced three to four weeks between the doses. Part of the agency's playbook details a need for refrigeration of the second dose during that several-week period following the initial injection. Redfield told Congress that he believes states are not yet in position to deal with that type of distribution requirement.
"The worst thing that could happen is if we have a vaccine delivered and we're still not ready to distribute," said Redfield.
Trump later said that Redfield's comment was perhaps in response to an unclear question and suggested he has called Redfield about the matter.
The two men also appear to disagree about the relative necessity and efficacy of mask usage. Trump recommends the use of a protective mask for individuals who are unable to social distance, though he rarely dons one himself. "Vaccine is much more effective than the mask," Trump said.
On the other hand, Redfield told Congress, "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."
The possible vaccine is still in late-stage development and could be approved within the next two months. Dr. Scott Atlas, one of the president's advisers, said that as many as 700 million doses could be ready by March.
Redfield also suggested at least $6 billion in additional funding would be needed to prepare states for the logistical demands of distributing the eventual vaccine.
The cost of the vaccine will be covered with taxpayer dollars allocated toward the effort. However, it's unclear whether some medical providers will attempt to charge an injection fee for the vaccine. Trump administration officials say they are working to prevent that from being the case for Medicare recipients, Americans without insurance and those who have insurance through their jobs.