New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly questioned President Trump’s political motives regarding a coronavirus vaccine and its credibility under his leadership. The Democratic governor has also called for an independent review of the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness before its release.
In a series of televised interviews on Friday, Cuomo claimed Americans don’t trust the president after Trump threatened to withhold a potential coronavirus vaccine from New Yorkers.
During remarks in the Rose Garden, Trump said a vaccine will be widely available by April, “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 the vaccine. He doesn’t trust where the vaccine is coming from.”
Hours after Trump’s remarks, the Democratic governor doubled down in media appearances Friday evening, stressing to MSNBC’s Katy Tur that he trusts the companies working on the vaccine, just not the White House.
He told CNN’s Anderson Cooper: “To the extent, there is skepticism about Trump and distrust of Trump and a belief that Trump politicized the public health process, which he did, that he politicized the NIH [The National Institutes of Health] and the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and the FDA [Food and Drug Administration], which he did, and that spills over to the vaccine, these separate panels that states will have will give those states confidence.”
Friday’s comments were not the first time Cuomo expressed skepticism of a coronavirus vaccine overseen by the Trump Administration.
On Monday, following positive news from Pfizer-BioNTech regarding its coronavirus vaccine, Cuomo told ABC News’ “Good Morning America” that “we can’t let this vaccination plan go forward the way that the Trump Administration is designing it because (President-elect Joe) Biden can’t undo it two months later.”
Last week, Pfizer and BioNTech said clinical data showed their COVID-19 vaccine candidate to be 90% effective in preventing coronavirus in their Phase 3 clinical trial and that they could file for emergency use authorization with the FDA by the third week of November.
Cuomo also said that he is talking to other governors about how to potentially “fix it” or “stop” the distribution of the long-awaited vaccine.
“The White House has been unhappy with the FDA because they’ve been unwilling to accelerate the approval of the vaccine because they want it done for Election Day,” Cuomo said on October 22.
Three days before, in an interview on ABC News’ “Good Morning America,” Cuomo had predicted the American public would be “very skeptical” about taking any vaccine touted by the Trump administration.
“You’re going to say to the American people, ‘Now here’s a vaccine, it was new, it was done quickly, but trust this federal administration and their health administration that it’s safe,'” said the governor, who added that his administration would “put together our own group of doctors and medical experts to review the vaccine.”
In May, the White House announced a new public-private partnership to develop a coronavirus vaccine under the so-called “Operation Warp Speed.” The goal of the operation was to quickly ramp up the development and production of the vaccine.
Cuomo’s public skepticism of a vaccine goes back to September when his office announced in a news release that “New York State will form an independent Clinical Advisory Task Force comprised of leading scientists, doctors, and health experts who will review every COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the federal government, and will advise New York State on the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness in fighting the virus.”
“The federal government’s response to COVID and the White House’s dispute with the FDA raises serious questions about whether or not the vaccine has become politicized,” Governor Cuomo said on September 24. “Frankly, I’m not going to trust the federal government’s opinion and I wouldn’t recommend to New Yorkers based on the federal government’s opinion.”
“We’re going to put together our own review committee headed by the Department of Health to review the vaccine, and I’m appointing a committee that is going to come up with a vaccine distribution and implementation plan on how we will do it,” the Democratic governor continued.
Speaking on MSNBC the next day Cuomo said, “Trump has politicized this entire situation” and has “overridden health and science with politics.”
“I don’t trust the president and I don’t trust the FDA… They have lied about COVID from day one,” Cuomo added. He went on to say that the American people “shouldn’t” trust the FDA either.
During a news conference on Nov. 1, Cuomo once again knocked the FDA saying he believes the vaccine will be approved by the agency “on an expeditious basis under this president, if not a reckless basis.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar responded to Cuomo’s criticism, telling “America’s Newsroom” on Monday that “it’s just absolutely unconscionable that somebody would want to delay a vaccine to the American people that’s safe and effective just for political partisan reasons.”
Fox News’ Michael Ruiz, Vandana Rambaran, Andrew O’Reilly and Andrew Davis contributed to this report.