Trump said at a White House press conference on Wednesday that the US could have a COVID-19 vaccine in the next month, if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the drug.
“We’re very close to that vaccine," Trump said, adding that it could be ready by mid-October, “maybe a little bit later than that ... As soon as it’s given the go-ahead."
Trump further claimed the US would have distributed 100 million doses of the vaccine by the end of 2020, with priority vaccination going to elderly people, according to the administration's distribution strategy released on Tuesday.
"It's a plan like no other," Trump said, adding that his election rival, Democratic nominee Joe Biden, "acted as though there was no distribution plan."
Scott Atlas, a Hoover Institute senior fellow and adviser on Trump's coronavirus task force, further said the US would have 700 million doses by the end of March 2021.
Trump did not state which vaccine effort he believed the FDA would approve, but UK-based AstraZeneca's vaccine entered phase III clinical testing at the end of August, according to the National Institutes of Heath, but last week was temporarily halted over safety issues. Others are being developed by Moderna and Pfizer.
Russia unveiled the world's first COVID-19 vaccine in August, dubbed "Sputnik V," and the first doses have already entered public circulation.
In response to a question about Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield's claim earlier on Wednesday that a vaccine would not be ready until the summer of 2021, Trump claimed the CDC chief had "misunderstood the question."
"I think he made a mistake when he said that ... I believe he was confused," he said, adding that "under no circumstance" would the US be following the schedule Redfield had laid out.
However, Trump also said he disagrees with Redfield's statement that a mask is more effective at controlling COVID-19 than a vaccine.
“It’s not more effective,” Trump said, noting there are "a lot of problems" with masks, such as people touching them and then touching other people or surfaces. "Vaccines are much more effective.”
He dismissed Biden's wearing of a mask, suggesting it was performative and he might be wearing it to hide an undesirable facial feature.
The US presidential election is scheduled for November 3 and Trump has based no shortage of his reelection campaign around the argument that his administration's handling of the coronavirus, which has infected at least 6.6 million Americans and killed 196,000 of them, according to New York Times data.
By comparison, Trump has hammered at Biden for his record in handling the H1N1 epidemic in 2009, when Biden was vice president, which Trump says was grossly mismanaged, proving Biden would do a worse job than him of handling COVID-19. At the press conference, Trump claimed a Biden administration would not have a vaccine ready for two years.
Trump noted at the press conference that a person on the White House staff had tested positive for COVID-19, but said it was no one close to him.