President Trump on Friday gave an update on the progress of Operation Warp Speed, stating that the COVID-19 vaccine would be widely available as soon as April 2021, but singled out New York due to Governor Andrew Cuomo restrictions.
“As soon as April, the vaccine will be available to the entire general population with the exceptions of places like New York state where, for political reasons, the governor decided to say, and I don’t think it’s good politically, I think it’s very bad from a health point, but he wants to take his time on the vaccine, he doesn’t trust where the vaccine’s coming from,” Trump said in his Rose Garden address late Friday afternoon.
“So we won’t be delivering it to New York until we have authorization to do so, and that pains me to say that,” Trump added. “This is a very successful amazing vaccine at 90 percent and more. So the governor, Gov. Cuomo, will have to let us know when he’s ready for it. Otherwise, we can’t be delivering it to a state that won’t be giving it to its people immediately. And I know the people of New York very well. I know they want it.”
Trump bashed Cuomo for his catastrophic handling of the pandemic, primarily his role in the nursing home crisis. It is reported by the New York Health Department that 6,720 deaths of the Coronavirus came from in nursing homes and adult-care facilities. However, the true death toll is expected to be double the figures reported as the Governor administration has refused to give an accurate figure of death reported statewide.
“The governor will let us know when he’s ready,” Trump reiterated. “He’s had some very bad editorials recently about this — this statement and what’s happened with respect to nursing homes and his handling of nursing homes, and I hope he doesn’t handle this as badly as he’s handled the nursing homes.”
The president said 20 million vaccine doses will be available for distribution in December to high-risk populations, health care workers, and the elderly.
Pfizer announced on Monday that its trials show its COVID-19 vaccine is “more than 90% effective,” which gave markets a boost. The pharmaceutical company said it would soon be applying for Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
Cuomo in the past two months has politicized a COVID vaccine, making disparaging remarks in expressing distrust of a vaccine quickly approved by the Trump administration. He called the rollout “flawed,” and said he will institute a panel to give it a second “review” led by state experts and officials of the FDA protocols before attempting to “build confidence” and administered it out to New Yorkers.
Earlier this week, minutes after Pfizer announced a major vaccine breakthrough, Cuomo decried the good news calling it bad news because it will happened “two months before Joe Biden takes over” the White House. He declared that he would stop the vaccination plan in going forward due to the plan from the Trump administration being ineffective since the private sector, not the government will be the ones administering the vaccine.
Despite his continuous trashing of the vaccine and the Trump Administration rollout plan, it was found that Cuomo refused to participate in 17 weekly Coronavirus Task Force Governor’s conference calls from June 1 to Oct. 30 that are designed to brief state leaders on the vaccine development and rollout process. Cuomo even brushed off a one-on-one meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and the heads of Operation Warp Speed.
“It’s disgraceful, but not without surprise, that Gov. Cuomo would continue to engage in politically motivated attacks that obstruct the federal planning process [rather] than meaningful collaboration to save lives,” White House spokesman Michael Bars said on Wednesday. “The administration is harnessing the full power of the federal government, private sector, military, and scientific community in an unprecedented private-public partnership to deliver a safe and effective vaccine as soon as possible. Gov. Cuomo is trying to stop it.”
But not too long ago, Cuomo expressed interest in helping the Trump Administration with its vaccine development and even offered space for a testing laboratory. In an April 15th Coronavirus press briefing during a time when New York was the epicenter of the pandemic, the governor defended his extension of the states lockdown, saying New York will be in a better place once a vaccine is available.
“When is this over? I say, personal opinion, it’s over when we have a vaccine,” Cuomo said. “When does that happen? When we have a vaccine. When do we have a vaccine? 12 to 18 months. Who determines that? The federal government has to test the vaccine, FDA. That’s a big gap, 12 to 18 months, yes. I say the sooner the better. Anything we can do to work with the federal government to get the vaccine done faster, we are all in.”
“You want to use New York State as a laboratory, we are ready, willing and able. Anyway, the New York State Department of Health can work with the FDA to reduce that testing period, we are all in and energized and creative and ambitious about it. Anything we can do to accelerate that vaccine, we will do. You need a place to test it in large numbers? Think of New York. But that’s the ultimate end,” Cuomo added.
Shortly after Trump press conference, Cuomo went on a media circus tirade tour, appearing on both MSNBC and CNN to respond. Instead of downplaying his politicization, Cuomo played victim, saying the former New Yorker president was targeting him to personal and political and promised in one segment that New Yorkers will get it once delivered.
“That’s been his M.O.,” Cuomo said on CNN. “Everything is personal with this president. There can’t be a disagreement on principle, and he retaliates. He uses the government as a retaliatory tool. That’s what he does.”
“The federal government on Covid has been very short on details, and has frankly been incompetent in the administration,” Cuomo said on MSNBC. “[He’s] irrelevant because I think it will fall to the Joe Biden administration.”
“As soon as Trump delivers me a dose, I will be ready to administer it. Period,” Cuomo added. “The day they distribute the vaccine, we will be ready to start the distribution. Our review of the FDA protocol will be simultaneous, concurrent with their delivery, we’re not going to have any lag in time.”