KEY POINTS

  • CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield spoke before a U.S. Senate panel about the potential timetable of a coronavirus vaccine
  • Redfield said early availablility would be limited and needed to be used for healthcare workers and highest at-risk groups
  • He echoed Dr. Anthony Fauci, saying the best defense for the time being from the virus was a face mask

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday that if a coronavirus vaccine is ready by the end of 2020, life in the U.S. could return to normal by “late second, third quarter 2021.”

According to Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. has over 6.61 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 196,000 deaths.

Redfield said if a vaccine was approved and ready for distribution, it would likely be in very limited quantities for a few months. This lack of availability means first responders, healthcare workers, and those at greatest risk from the virus would be the first inoculated.

Redfield said mass availability would likely be available sometime between June and September.

"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," Redfield said.

The CDC previously said there will be no charge for any Americans looking to be vaccinated once one is approved and readily available. Instead, plans are being outlined using the CARES Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to ensure no one would be charged in order to be inoculated.

He then echoed comments from Dr. Anthony Fauci that the best current defense against coronavirus is face masks.

“These face masks are the most important, powerful public health tool we have,” Redfield said. “If we did it for six, eight, 10, 12 weeks, we'd bring this pandemic under control.”

“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, because the immunogenicity may be 70%. And if I don't get an immune response, the vaccine's not going to protect me. This face mask will," he said.

CDC says most COVID-19 patients not infectious after 10 days CDC says most COVID-19 patients not infectious after 10 days Photo: Gerd Altmann - Pixabay