US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said Wednesday that wearing masks may protect individuals against coronavirus more than a vaccine.

Speaking at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing, Redfield said face masks are “the most important, powerful public health tool” and the US could keep it under control if all individuals wore face coverings for six to 12 weeks.

“I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine, because the immunogenicity may be 70% and if I don’t get an immune response, the vaccine’s not going to protect me, this face mask will,” said Redfield. “We have clear scientific evidence they work.”

Masks are mandatory in several states and experts believe wearing one is vital for slowing the spread of the disease.

According to Redfield, a vaccine might be available in November or December but not widely accessible until “the second or third quarter” of 2021.

As of Wednesday, more than 6.6 million people have been infected with the virus and more than 196,000 in the US have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.