Former CDC head: ‘A vaccine isn’t just going to ride in and save the day’

Dr. Richard Besser, former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, talks with Linsey Davis about the contradicting vaccine predictions and the politicization of science.
5:07 | 09/18/20

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Transcript for Former CDC head: ‘A vaccine isn’t just going to ride in and save the day’
And almost makes sense of where we are in the fight against a crime virus would like to bring back our friend doctor Richard best series of former acting director of the CDC the president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and ABC's former chief health and medical editor thanks for coming back on the show doctor B. Thanks Susie it's great to be here. So live hearing some mixed messages as you know about the timing of potential vaccine and when it might widely be distributed to the public. Who should we be listening to in this moment and when do you think Americans could get vaccinated. Well I think we need to listen to our public health leaders and and that's who we should have been listening to hearing from. Since the beginning of this thing you're one of the things that it but it really struck me yesterday. Lindsay was that it. It was the first time in so long that we been heavily here from day ahead of the CDC it was only because there was. Congressional here your we should be hearing from him every single day. I'm in his is being take away point down to is that. For a long time. The biggest impact we're gonna have is by people wearing masks and keep you wake from each other and washing their hands and those basic public health measures if the vaccine is not a ride in and save the day. And again as you're well aware presidential has contradicted his own CDC head who said that mask wearing could be even more important than a vaccine in our fight against the virus who's right here. Again the head of the CDC you're around the globe. Countries and mineral ever had they been able to get this under control. With wearing masks and keeping says socially distant from each other and there is no vaccine and yeah I think it's really important that we get we trying to adjust people's expectations about a vaccine. And continue to use the word if there's a back seat because none of these trials have been finished. We have absolutely no idea. How effective any of these vaccines that are in trials or are going to be or that there that they're safe and until that information is no. And in chills scientists can look at that data and say okay we believe this vaccine is good news or and it's does that seem to say. To all that happens it's really premature to talk about whether vaccine will be put into people's arms. I am I don't think there's any guarantee that we will have a back seat I'm optimistic. But we're not the area. When you say that what you're not optimistic or are you not sure that we will have a vaccine. What within a certain time period. Well yeah if if you look at it that the past 2030 years and the efforts of science. They don't always deliver when it comes to vaccines because some of the biggest. The infectious disease threats in the world malaria. Each I'd be Yankee fever hepatitis C. Scientists have been working for decades and we don't have a vaccine against any of those disease. So it's terrific that there are so many companies that are working to try and developer coroner virus vaccine they're trying to prevent its. And you know I hope it one of those methods come comes through at this point. You know it's just early days here or there in there in their trials secede do these vaccines work and in your how effective could they be. Parents really good point and doctor restaurants of course you headed the CDC during the Obama administration. Typical dynamic like between a president and the CDC director and what happens when there's a disagreement. I mean there's there's always tension between those who were in in public health leadership. And those who are Indian political positions are because. You know when your political position you always want to be able to deliver good news and science doesn't work that science is tries to be. Truth and and this is the studies in what you're you're truly find it. During the H1N1. Pandemic in 2009. You know I had the fortunate position to be working under President Hu said that everything we do will be based on the best available public health science. And I remember creeping the president and the cap and what we're doing. And the following day on his radio address President Obama he every single message that I laid. Ford to kneecap and so what you were seeing was an amplification of the public health message not this. These conflicting message that we're seeing today every day be YouTube between the White House public health. And finally are you concerned at all that the scientific community is being. Politicize lane just as an example the magazine Scientific American for the first time in its 175. Year history. Endorsed a political candidate. And it was Joseph Biden. Yeah you know I I think the more we can do to keep politics out of science than the better. But that being said people have to go with their conscience and if they feel that it. There's a barrier to good signs going forward in and decisions being made based on science people need to speak. There are a lot of people who been calling out this administration. For what they've done to politicize science and that's critically important that we can't take this as a given if you want that to change. Doctor Richard S are we always appreciate your insights and your time thanks so much. Thank you Lindsey.

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

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