Tapper Alex Azar 05172020
Tapper to Azar: This is nothing to celebrate
04:10 - Source: CNN
Washington CNN  — 

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Sunday that “everything does not depend on a vaccine” when asked to explain President Donald Trump’s recent comments that the US will return to normal with or without a vaccine proven to treat Covid-19.

“So what the President was making the point on is – everything does not depend on a vaccine. We’re committed to delivering a vaccine, we’ll put the full power of the US government and our private sector towards getting a vaccine, but that’s one of a multi-factorial response program,” Azar told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” when asked about the comments.

“First is the testing that we talked about before, test symptomatic people, broad surveillance to find cases, surge and to contain. Also therapeutics,” he added.

On Friday, Trump unveiled a crash effort aimed at developing a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, but said that “vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back,” adding that “we’re starting a process.”

The remarks come as a number of states begin to reopen amid the crisis despite there being no vaccine for the deadly virus. A vaccine is regarded as the holy grail, and if the US population can be successfully vaccinated for Covid-19, it would make it easier for the country to fully reopen.

But even as Trump projected confidence that a vaccine would be available within months, he downplayed the importance it might have in helping Americans return to normal.

“We think we are going to have a vaccine in the pretty near future, and if we do, we are going to really be a big step ahead and if we don’t, we are going to be like so many other cases where you had a problem come in, it’ll go away at some point, it’ll go away,” the President said.

Earlier this month, scientists involved in the administration’s coronavirus vaccine project identified 14 vaccines to focus on for development, according to a senior administration official. Those involved in the effort expect to have six to eight of the vaccines being tested make it to subsequent rounds of trials, the official said.

Officials hope to have three to four vaccines make it through final testing and be made available, but that depends on how the testing and clinical trials proceed and how successful they are.

CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.