U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield told a Senate panel on Wednesday that face masks are better at protecting against the coronavirus disease than a potential vaccine.
During a hearing on the federal response to COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) hosted by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, Dr. Redfield testified:
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 [ability to provoke an immune response] may be 70 percent. And if I don’t get an immune response, the vaccine is not going to protect me. This face mask will.
The director of the CDC, a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), failed to cite any data to support his mask claim.
Redfield’s comments came in reply to Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) asking whether President Donald Trump was “undercutting” health officials’ message that wearing a mask is one of the most important steps that Americans can take to defend themselves and the country against COVID-19.
The CDC director also said in responding:
I am not going to comment directly about the president but I am going to comment as the CDC director that face masks, these face-masks are the most important powerful public health tool we have ,and I will continue to appeal for all Americans, all individuals in our country to embrace these face coverings.
I have said it, if we did it for six, eight, ten, 12 weeks, we’d bring this pandemic under control… We have clear scientific evidence they work, and they are our best defense.
Several Trump administration health officials have said they are “cautiously optimistic” a vaccine will be available by the end of this year or early 2021.
“I think there will be a vaccine that initially will be available sometime between November and December but very limited supply and will have to be prioritized,” Redfield testified.
He indicated that “first responders and those at greatest risk for death” would get the vaccine first before most other U.S. citizens who will likely receive it around summer or early autumn 2021.
There are no guarantees that there will be a safe and effective vaccine, mainly since there are no immunizations against any coronaviruses in humans.
The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) has warned that there may never be a “silver bullet” for the lethal and contagious disease.
Nevertheless, there is a global race for developing a COVID-19 vaccine, with the W.H.O. monitoring 35 candidates in clinical and 145 in the pre-clinical evaluation as of September 9.
There are seven candidates in the United States, including at least three in the final stage of the three-phase clinical trial process in the United States alone.
On Wednesday, the Trump administration unveiled a sweeping plan to make the coronavirus vaccine available for free to all Americans.
There is a healthy dose of skepticism about a potential vaccine’s safety among Americans, some polls have shown.
According to experts, around 70 percent of Americans must get vaccinated or have immunity from surviving the disease to achieve highly-coveted “herd immunity” — the point at which the virus can no longer spread widely.
As part of the multi-billion dollar Operation Warp Speed, often described as an “unprecedented” effort, the federal government, in partnership with the private sector, is working to deliver a safe and effective vaccine in record time.