The response to COVID-19 has devastated New York, largely thanks to the disastrous policies of Governor Andrew Cuomo. Small businesses and restaurants that will never open again, thousands of deaths in nursing homes, and the flight of those who have the means to leave are just part of the story. Now he requires a documented COVID-19 test to enter the state. This morning, his response to the announcement by Pfizer of a seemingly effective vaccine is every bit as stupid and disgusting as his nursing home policy.
According to the data, Pfizer’s candidate is 90% effective, and it requires a bit more time for safety verification. Despite their public comments saying they received no money from the government for the vaccine candidate, their press release tells a different story:
Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech SE (Nasdaq: BNTX) today announced the execution of an agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense to meet the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed program goal to begin delivering 300 million doses of a vaccine for COVID-19 in 2021. Under the agreement, the U.S. government will receive 100 million doses of BNT162, the COVID-19 vaccine candidate jointly developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, after Pfizer successfully manufactures and obtains approval or emergency use authorization from U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The U.S. government will pay the companies $1.95 billion upon the receipt of the first 100 million doses, following FDA authorization or approval. The U.S. government also can acquire up to an additional 500 million doses.
How did Governor Cuomo respond to this news?
!@NYGovCuomo says it’s “bad news” Pfizer’s Covid vaccine came during the Trump Admin; says he’s going to work w/ other governors to “stop” distribution “before it does damage" pic.twitter.com/ULembNWokW
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) November 9, 2020
When asked about the news from Pfizer, Cuomo said:
“Well, it’s good news, bad news. The good news is the Pfizer tests look good and we’ll have a vaccine shortly. The bad news is that it’s about two months before Joe Biden takes over. And that means this administration is going to be implementing a vaccine plan. The vaccine plan is very important, and it is probably the most ambitious undertaking since COVID began.”
He went on to say that the Trump administration’s plan to distribute the vaccine was flawed because it would leave out communities that did not receive tests early in the pandemic. Cuomo said that when you deny a problem the way President Trump did with COVID-19, you are unable to solve it.
Operation Warp speed is bringing a vaccine to market in record time because Trump ignored the problem? That seems counterintuitive since the administration built the response on a historic public/private partnership that was designed, at President Trump’s direction, to remove all barriers that would unnecessarily slow the process down. Additionally, the Coronavirus Task Force built an effective global supply-chain operation under the direction of experts in the military to distribute PPE and manage ventilator inventories.
Cuomo also asserted that there was no mobilization of the government to combat COVID-19. I think Andrew Cuomo needs to explain the Javits Center facility and the delivery of a naval hospital ship to New York. But no one will press him about these blatant lies. He should probably also review the mobilization of DHS and the State Department to shut our borders and retrieve American citizens in the face of the pandemic, but he won’t.
His assessment of the Trump administration distribution plan is also strange. It is the same distribution channel used during the Obama administration to deliver the H1N1 vaccine. According to HHS:
On August 14, CDC executed an existing contract option with McKesson Corporation to support vaccine distribution. The company also distributed the H1N1 vaccine during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009-2010. The current contract with McKesson, awarded as part of a competitive bidding process in 2016, includes an option for the distribution of vaccines in the event of a pandemic.
”Detailed planning is ongoing to ensure rapid distribution as soon as the FDA authorizes or approves a COVID-19 vaccine and CDC makes recommendations for who should receive initial doses. Once these decisions are made, McKesson will work under CDC’s guidance, with logistical support from DoD, to ship COVID-19 vaccines to administration sites.
“The Department of Defense is using its world-class logistical expertise to plan for distributing a safe and effective vaccine at warp speed,” said General Gustave Perna. “Americans can trust that our country’s best public health and logistics experts are working together to get them vaccines safely as soon as possible.
At the end of the interview, Cuomo says:
“We can’t let this vaccination plan go forward the way the Trump administration is designing it, because Biden can’t undo it two months later. We’ll be in the midst of it. And I’ve been talking to governors across the nation about that. How can we shape the Trump administration vaccine plan to fix it or stop it?”
This commentary is some next-level insanity. The only staff in the picture that will change under a Biden administration is the HHS secretary, who is not likely to overrule the CDC in how the agency prioritizes doses or the military on logistics. The vaccine distribution team is also working directly with the state, local, community, and tribal leaders through the CDC to create the distribution plans.
So, Governor Cuomo will have the same opportunity to screw up his vaccination plan that he did to screw up his COVID-19 response. With one of the highest death rates in the country, he should not even be allowed to weigh in on this issue.
He is just out there preemptively to blame his eventual failure on the Trump administration. Just like he blamed his deadly nursing home policy on them despite all evidence to the contrary. Any governor who teams up with him to stop vaccine distribution in their state should pay a heavy price at the ballot box when they are up for reelection.
Cuomo’s vaunted Health Experts™ are predicting a dark winter due to COVID-19. To withhold a vaccine from at-risk populations as defined by the CDC, which is not likely to change under a Biden administration, is unconscionable, blatantly political, and absolutely deplorable.