Amid mixed messages from the White House on the approval process for a possible coronavirus vaccine, Surgeon General of the United States Jerome Adams addressed those who may be skeptical of what some see as a politicization of science.
"You should have trust in the process if you don't have trust in the politics and the people," Adams told Cheddar. "I promise you this vaccine, when it gets across the finish line, will be safe, will be effective, and I will be in line to get it when they tell me that I can."
The surgeon general noted that he was aware of the long history of medical malpractice that has disproportionately impacted people of color, but stressed that safety mechanisms and oversight boards have since been put in place to protect people.
As the Trump administration consults with scientists who support the controversial "herd immunity" approach, Adams also pushed back against the idea that this would mean "letting everyone go out and get sick" but instead would be best achieved by securing a vaccine as quickly as possible.
"I talked to [Dr. Anthony] Fauci last night, and we still expect one by the end of this year or beginning of next year," he said.
In the meantime, Adams is rolling out a new guidance on hypertension, which is one of several preconditions that increase the chances of death from coronavirus.
"If you have high blood pressure, it puts you at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, for stroke, which we know puts you at higher risk for complications and death from COVID," he said.
"People can't be expected to do this alone," he said. "We need to provide the community supports because people don't just have pre-existing medical conditions. They have pre-existing social conditions: lack of access to transportation, lack of a good-paying job, lack of child care. All of these things conspire to reduce our resilience, and we need to give more people the opportunity to make a healthy choice."
In light of the president's own COVID diagnosis, however, Adams made a general plea for all Americans to take basic preventive measures seriously such as wearing a mask, washing your hands, and social distancing.
"What I want people to understand is that COVID is contagious," he said. "It's very contagious, doesn't matter if you're Democrat or Republican, black or white, rich or poor, or where you live. You can still get it, and you can still die from it."