Cuomo: Potential COVID-19 vaccine comes 'about two months' too early

"We can't let this vaccination plan go forward."

Updated: November 9, 2020 - 1:04pm

Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, one of the states hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, said reports of a new promising vaccine for the virus comes "about two months" too soon.

The Democrat appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Monday and was asked by host George Stephanopoulos about drug make Pfizer announcing that a vaccine in advance testing so far appears to be 90% effective.

"Well it's it's good news-bad news, George," Cuomo said. "The good news is, 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."

"The vaccine plan is very important and it's probably the most ambitious undertaking since COVID began. 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," he also said, in reference to the fact that the vaccine is expected to be given in two doses.

"And the Trump administration is rolling out the vaccination plan and I believe it's flawed, 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."

Stephanopoulos asked: "So what needs to be done, that the Trump administration won't do that President Biden could do?"

Cuomo responded: "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. They're going to take this vaccine and they're going to go through the private mechanism, through hospitals through drug market chains, etc.

"That's going to be slow and that's going to bypass the communities that we call healthcare deserts. If you don't have a Rite Aid or CVS then you're in trouble. And that's what happened the first time with COVID. Why do we have such a disparity in the infection rate and mortality rate in COVID? Because some communities don't have the same access to health care.

I'm sure the Biden administration is going to address, I think his first step saying let's focus on the science, let's depoliticize testing data, listen to the scientists – 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 because Biden can't undo it two months later, we'll be in the midst of it," he said. "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."

Pfizer's recently announced results are based on 94 trial subjects who were infected by the coronavirus and subsequently developed at least one symptom.

Pfizer said it is now on track to ask health regulators for permission to begin distributing and selling the vaccine – which is two shots weeks apart – by the end of the month, if continued trials demonstrate that the vaccine is safe. 

The Food and Drug Administration requires a company to monitor at least 50% of a study's subjects for side effects for a period of two months before making a safety assessment of the vaccine. Pfizer says it is in on track to collect that data by next week, and could apply for FDA emergency authorization soon after that.

The safety and efficacy check of Pfizer's vaccine was conducted by an independent panel of experts, called a data-safety monitoring committee. They shared their findings with the company on Sunday. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Monday morning jumped more than 5% or 1,500 points, an intraday record, following Pfizer's announcement. The S&P 500 increased 3.7%. The Nasdaq Composite – a tech heavy index – had a relatively smaller gains, about 1.3%. 





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