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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo poured cold water on Pfizer’s announcement Monday that its new COVID-19 vaccine has a 90-percent effective rate at preventing infection, suggesting that President Donald Trump may politicize its distribution during what could be his final few months in office.
Cuomo, a frequent critic of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic despite being in charge of the state with the most infections and deaths, said Monday Pfizer’s announcement contained “bad news.”
“And that means this administration is going to be implementing a vaccine plan. The vaccine plan is very important, and it’s probably the most ambitious undertaking since COVID began,” he continued.
“Just to put it in focus, we did 120 million COVID tests in this nation over seven months, scrambling, doing everything we can. We now have to do 330 million vaccinations, maybe twice. My state does more testing than any state in the United States. We did 12 million tests. We have to do 20 million vaccines,” said Cuomo.
He then attacked the Trump distribution plan.
“The Trump Administration is rolling out the vaccination plan, and I believe it’s flawed,” said Cuomo, who was widely faulted for his administration’s order early in the coronavirus pandemic for nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients — which later analyses say added thousands to New York’s death toll.
“I believe it learns nothing from the past. They’re basically going to have the private providers do it, and that’s going to leave out all sorts of communities that were left out the first time when COVID ravaged them,” Cuomo added.
The New York Democrat also suggested he and others may block the distribution of the vaccine in conjunction with other states.
“So what needs to be done that the Trump administration won’t do that President-Elect Biden could do?” GMA co-host George Stephanopoulos asked.
“When you deny a problem the way Trump did, you can never solve it and that’s true in life. The Trump administration denied COVID. So they were never ready for it. There was no mobilization of the government. And they’re still doing the same thing,” Cuomo said.
“They’re going to take this vaccine and they’re going to go through the private mechanism. Through hospitals, through drug market chains, et cetera. That’s going to be slow and that’s going to bypass the communities that we call health care deserts,” he added.
“I’m sure the Biden administration is going to address that. I think his first step saying let’s focus on the science, let’s depoliticize testing data, listen to the scientists is the exact opposite of Trump but you have two months and we can’t let this vaccination plan go forward the way that Trump and his administration is designing it because Biden can’t undo it two months later,” the governor said.
“We’ll be in the midst of it and I’m going — 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 before it does damage,” he added.
Former Bush White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer blasted Cuomo’s “irresponsible statements.”
“This is one of the most irresponsible statements anyone could make. Everyone should hope for a vaccine as fast as possible and work together to distribute it as fast as possible. There is nothing Andrew Cuomo will not sanctimoniously politicize,” he wrote on Twitter.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), also laced into Cuomo.
“What on earth is Governor Cuomo talking about? This is great news and everyone – Republicans and Democrats and apolitical folks – should all be jointly thrilled about the possibility of an effective vaccine,” Sasse said in a statement cited by Fox News.
“After this nasty virus has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and put millions out of work, it is beyond disgusting that Governor Cuomo would use a glimmer of hope for another worn-out ‘Trump is bad’ talking point,” he added.
“When we get a vaccine, we’re going to need all hands on deck distributing it as fast as possible – shamelessly politicizing this is dangerous and stupid.”
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