NEW YORK — Just minutes after being criticized by the president of the United States, Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended his establishment of a panel to review a federally authorized COVID-19 vaccine, and said the president’s threat to hold back distribution in New York was retaliatory and personal.
In interviews with MSNBC and CNN, Cuomo said New York is one of a handful of states with such panels, created due to public concerns over the safety of a shot, with fears that the race to an effective coronavirus vaccine had become politicized.
“An overwhelming number of Americans are worried about political interference…by the president,” he said.
The point of the review panel, he said, is to give New Yorkers peace of mind that the vaccine is safe.
In a Rose Garden address touting the success of COVID-19 vaccine trials, President Donald Trump slammed Cuomo over a recent policy to essentially double-check federal authorization for a vaccine.
Trump said the vaccine would be available in the spring for essentially the entire country, except for New York.
“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, ‘I don’t think it’s good politically.’ I think it’s very bad from a health standpoint, he wants to take his time with the vaccine,” Trump said.
Trump’s last day in office is Jan. 20. (The Associated Press has previously projected Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.)
“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.”
Cuomo said Friday that any review by the state panel would be done concurrently with federal review, and there would be no lag in a distribution timetable.
Whenever the federal government is ready to begin shipping doses, New York will be ready to distribute, Cuomo said.
“There will be no delay. Our review will be simultaneous with [FDA] delivery.”
And if New York is deliberately passed over, legal action is to come.
In a release Friday, State Attorney General Letitia James said she’d sue if New York doesn’t get vaccine doses.
“This is nothing more than vindictive behavior by a lame-duck president trying to extract vengeance on those who oppose his politics,” she said. “Once there is a fully-developed COVID-19 vaccine, we are confident that a Biden-Harris Administration will provide New York with the proper number of doses so that our state’s residents can achieve immunity. If dissemination of the vaccine takes place in the twilight of a Trump Administration and the president wants to play games with people’s lives, we will sue and we will win.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thusrday New Yorkers don’t need to worry about getting vaccinated.
The COVID pandemic has broken national records and THIS is how Donald Trump responds.
The City and the State have developed vaccine distribution plans. We’ll make sure New Yorkers are vaccinated. Too bad he won’t do his job.
But we know President Biden will. https://t.co/ty1TngrYBW
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) November 13, 2020
Cuomo said Trump’s critical comments about New York and his implication that the state may be behind others, is personal.
“He has issues with New York,” Cuomo said. When asked if he also has issues with Cuomo himself, he agreed that it’s likely a bit of both.
“Everything is personal with this president,” he said, referencing other instances of political retaliation from the Trump administration.
Trump didn’t prove him wrong Thursday, using his Rose Garden address to get in a final dig at what’s been likely the most criticized piece of Cuomo’s COVID-19 response.
“I hope he doesn’t handle this as badly as he’s handled the nursing homes.”