White House testing coordinator discusses edited guidelines

Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for Health and Human Services, speaks to ABC News about the controversial testing guidelines that were widely criticized.
4:06 | 09/18/20

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Transcript for White House testing coordinator discusses edited guidelines
Joining us right now in an ABC news exclusive admiral Brett Giroir for HHS and the white house testing coordinator. Admiral, thank you so much for joining us. I want to jump right in. A lot of confusion out there right now. I'm hoping you can help clear it up. We saw that remarkable contradiction this week, the CDC director there on capitol hill says vaccines will not be widely available until possibly the summer. The president says he's wrong, you were there. Was Dr. Redfield wrong? So, thank you for having me I actually think Dr. Fauci explained it very well last night. The CDC director was correct that widespread use of a vaccine, hundreds of millions of people, will probably not happen until midnext year. But the point that I want to emphasize is we could immunize 5% or 10% of the population and get 90% of the benefit by ring fencing the vulnerable like in nursing homes or vaccinating our teachers or those who have hypertension so both are correct. If we had a vaccine even a few million in November, it could make an enormous impact on the health of the country, but it is also true that everyone who wants a vaccine may not be able to get it till mid next year. Dr. Fauci explained it real well last night. You're on the task force this. Former member who came forward to say the president's response to the pandemic has shown what she called a flat out disregard for human life. Can you say right now that politics is not part of the decision-making that is happening on this task force? I can definitely say that and miss troye was not a member of the task force. She was a staffer to the vice president. We worked with her very frequently gathering material force the task force, et cetera. She never said a negative word about the task force, the operations, anything in that regard even though she had the opportunity. I can definitively say that the task force meetings are evidence and science based, almost geeky in the way they're conducted with Dr. Birx going through all the data then Dr. Fauci. It's clearly a science-based, evidence-based process. And I never saw the president rant and rave in a task force meeting. I was not there in February and early March. I joined in middle of March, but the task force meetings are very regimented. Very evidence based with the scientists leading. Let's talk about the reversal -- the revised CDC guidelines that recommended against testing if you do not have symptoms. We're learning this morning you okay straighted the edits of these guidelines and that they were put out against the objections of scientists at the CDC. So why put out guidelines that your own researchers objected So there are about four misstatements in what you just asked in that question. Number one, they were CDC guidelines. They were generated by the CDC. They were posted by the CDC. Number two, it never recommended against testing those who are asymptomatic. In fact, there were specific recommendations to test asymptomatic and outbreak areas and we have taken enormous actions like I issued a prep guidance giving liability protection to test asymptomatic individuals. What they said was, if you're asymptomatic after exposure, you should do it within the context of public health or medical advice. And I think that makes total sense but you'll see even more clarifications of that today. The third thing is it absolutely came from the CDC. There are thousands of people at the CDC. I have no idea who "The New York Times" talked to, but I know for a fact that the version that went to the task force was reviewed and approved by Dr. Redfield. It was reviewed and approved by the senior scientist who was the incident manager and in multiple emails to me said that the pertinent issues were reviewed by subject matter experts. This was not posted on the CDC this was a CDC document and we will continue to clarify because I want people to know that if you are asymptomatic you can still spread the virus and we want them to be tested. You'll see more clarifications coming out probably today. Thank you so much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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