WASHINGTON (CN) — Bruised by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s assertion that any coronavirus vaccine rolled out in the Trump administration would be “flawed,” the president glowered Friday that the Empire State can keep waiting.
“As soon as April the vaccine will be available to the entire general population — with the exception of places like New York state where, for political reasons, the governor decided to say … he wants to take his time with a vaccine,” President Donald Trump said. “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 issued the threat to his former home state this afternoon from the Rose Garden, referencing an interview that the Democratic Cuomo gave Monday on “Good Morning America.”
“The bad news is that it’s about two months before Joe Biden takes over, and this means [the Trump] administration is going to be implementing a vaccine plan,” the governor said.
Cuomo’s remarks stand in contrast to cries of relief heard ’round the world this week when Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their vaccine candidate was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 infection.
Pfizer did not take any money from Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, but that entity — a public-private partnership for Covid-19 vaccine development — has since promised to buy $2 billion worth of the drug Pfizer is working on.
As for Pfizer’s clarification that it did not develop the drug with funds from Operation Warp Speed, Trump today said the company’s remarks were a “unfortunate misrepresentation.”
Trump’s appearance was his first in public since dismissing the results of the 2020 election that projected victory for his opponent, Joe Biden. He took no questions Friday, which otherwise marks the country’s ninth consecutive day of record daily coronavirus infections. More than 160,000 were diagnosed with the virus on Thursday.
“As we see cases rising around the country, as we see hospitalizations rising around the country, I want to encourage the American people with the news,” said Vice President Mike Pence, who runs the White House’s coronavirus taskforce. “That as we have done from the very beginning, we’re going to move heaven and earth to make sure that your family has access to the level of health care that we’d want any one of our members of our family to have.”
On Monday, Pence said the administration would be reviewing each state’s plan for vaccine distribution in a meeting with state governors.
Within Operation Warp Speed, immunologist Moncef Slaoul said he felt very comfortable saying that the Food and Drug Administration would judge the vaccines independently, and that, “if approved, [they] should be used by all in the population.”
General Gustave Perna, who is chief operating officer of the operation, said that America can expect, within 24 hours of emergency-use approval by the FDA, that the military will begin the “herculean task” of building brick-and-mortar facilities to distribute the vaccine.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar meanwhile took aim at Cuomo for disparaging the administration’s efforts.
“So, it’s a shame that some, one example being the governor of New York, have actually injected politics into the process and suggested the possibility of intentionally delaying access to an FDA-authorized vaccine, which is simply unconscionable,” Azar said.