Cuomo hails news of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, but doubts Trump’s ability to distribute it

A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a “Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine” sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration
REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Like many Americans, Governor Andrew Cuomo sees great promise in Monday morning’s reports that Pfizer had developed a COVID-19 vaccine that’s proven more than 90 percent effective in clinical trials, and could be ready for mass distribution within weeks.

The only downside, Cuomo said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” is that the outgoing Trump administration will be responsible for vaccine distribution — at least at the start.

“It’s good news, bad news, George,” Cuomo said in his interview with George Stephanopoulos. “The good news is that the Pfizer tests look good and we’ll have a vaccine shortly. The bad news is that it’s about two months before Joe Biden takes over, and that means this administration is going to be implementing a vaccine plan.”

Over the last several weeks, the governor has been outspoken in his criticism of the Trump regime’s plan for administering hundreds of millions of doses to Americans. The plan is primarily reliant upon hospitals and chain pharmacies such as CVS, Rite Aid or Walgreens serving as key distribution points.

But not all communities — particularly low-income areas hardest hit by the pandemic — have high-quality medical facilities or chain pharmacies, Cuomo warned.

“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,” the governor said Monday. “That’s going to be slow and that’s going to bypass the communities that we call health care deserts. If you don’t have a Rite Aid or a CVS, then you’re in trouble.”

Cuomo, who chairs the National Governors Association, said he is speaking with his peers across the 50 states to figure out how the Trump regime’s plan could be shaped “to fix it or stop it before it does damage.” He expressed greater confidence in the ability of President-elect Biden to handle the pandemic — though the 46th president won’t take office until Jan. 20, 2021.

“I think his first step saying let’s focus on the science, let’s depoliticize testing data,” Cuomo said. “Listen to the science is the exact opposite of Trump, but you have two months and we can’t let this vaccination plan go forward the way the Trump administration is designing it. Biden can’t undo it two months later. We’ll be in the midst of it.”

COVID-19 cases continue to surge across America, with more than 130,000 new cases detected every day. It’s expected that the country will cross the 10 million case threshold on Monday; the virus first arrived in America back in January.

New York was one of the first hard-hit states in March and April; the virus killed thousands before social distancing and mask-wearing mandates finally allowed the state to flatten the curve and reduce the infection rate.

Even though New York continues to have one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in the country today, cases are ticking upward, with the infection rate above 2 percent. Still, Cuomo expressed confidence that New York would help to control the virus with a strategy of attacking micro-clusters of cases where they develop.

You have to control the virus,” Cuomo said. “We know how to deal with it. You isolate people who have a virus. You do the testing, you follow the data and you put in restrictions and government has to step up. You need a national mask mandate and when you see the virus starting to flare up – we call them micro-clusters – we do so much testing that we can see it in a neighborhood. Then you bring in restrictions to close down activity in that neighborhood.”

This story originally appeared on amny.com.