New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday accused President Donald Trump of trying to use a potential coronavirus vaccine to intimidate him following Trump’s assertion that Cuomo would hold up vaccine distribution in the state for political reasons.
“He tries to bully people – he tries to bully governors, he uses government as a retaliatory tool,” Cuomo told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room,” adding that “I’m not going to let a bully push New Yorkers around, period.”
In his first public appearance since his election defeat was projected, Trump singled out Cuomo during an Operation Warp Speed announcement at the White House on Friday, saying the federal government will need Cuomo’s approval before it can start distributing a coronavirus vaccine in New York in the spring. At that point, President-elect Joe Biden, not Trump, will be president and in charge of distributing a potential vaccine.
“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 on the vaccine,” Trump said in the White House Rose Garden, adding that “we won’t be delivering it to New York until we have authorization to do so, and that pains me to say that.”
He continued, “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.”
Earlier this fall, Cuomo said that New York health officials would review any US-approved coronavirus vaccine, and that he would recommend New Yorkers not be vaccinated until the state-run process is complete.
Cuomo said Friday that Trump’s comments were false, noting that New York was among several states that have established scientific panels to independently approve any coronavirus vaccines approved by the US Food and Drug Administration “to give people confidence in the approval process” in light of concerns that it has been politicized.
“As soon as the FDA approves it, we will have our panel approve it, seven other states will review it,” Cuomo said. “And then I can say to the people of New York, ‘I know you were dubious, but we had a separate panel review it – it’s safe, take it.’”
Cuomo said that the state panel’s review of the FDA’s protocol in approving a potential vaccine would be “simultaneous” with the delivery of the vaccine, such that “there will be no delay – as soon as they get us the drug, we are ready to distribute it.”
But Cuomo expressed confidence that such a review would not reveal any problems with a potential vaccine.
“I don’t think the FDA is going to play games at this point,” he said. “So I don’t anticipate any real issue.”