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Cuomo: Americans should be 'very skeptical' about COVID-19 vaccine

N.Y. Democrat says FDA, CDC "don't have any credibility" under Trump.

Andrew Cuomo
Andrew Cuomo
Getty Images
Updated: October 19, 2020 - 2:24pm

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says Americans should not trust a COVID-19 vaccine solely because President Trump might have something to do with it.

The Democrat, whose performance handling the pandemic in one of America's most populous states has been heavily criticized, said Americans should be fearful.

"I'm not that confident, but my opinion doesn't matter," Cuomo said Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America." "I don't believe the American people are that confident."

"You are going to say to the American people now, 'Here's a vaccine, it was new, it was done quickly, but trust this federal administration, their health administration that it's safe, and we're not 100% sure of the consequences,' I think it's going to be a very skeptical American public about taking the vaccine, and they should be," Cuomo said.

The governor said the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "don’t have any credibility" — under the Trump administration. He added that other trusted scientists and health officials will need to vouch for any vaccine.

"What I said I'm going to do in New York is we're going to put together our own group of doctors and medical experts to review the vaccine and the efficacy and the protocol, and if they say it's safe, I'll go to the people of New York, and I will say it's safe with that credibility," he said. "But I believe, all across the country, you are going to need someone other than this FDA and this CDC saying it's safe."

Cuomo cited Dr. Anthony Fauci, an immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who served on the White House Coronavirus Task Force. The 81-year-old doctor, who has been a mainstay on TV ever since the pandemic hit, said Sunday on CBS's "60 Minutes" that the administration has now barred him from appearing on some shows.

"You have Dr. Fauci now saying that they basically tried to muzzle him," Cuomo said. "He has the highest credibility in the nation on this issue."

Cuomo also said a vaccine doesn't mean that much.

"They are saying the day we get the vaccine that's when this ends," Cuomo said. "That's not true. The day we get the vaccine, we then have to prove to the American people that it's safe, we then have to administer millions of doses, and that is a massive undertaking that this administration hasn't even talked about and is going to take months. If it's not done right, it's going to be a debacle, like back in January and February when we made so many mistakes."

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has also sought to politicize a potential vaccine.

"I trust vaccines, I trust scientists, but I don't trust Donald Trump," Biden said in last month. "At this moment, the American people can't either."

"If Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I'll be the first in line to take it," his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said in the vice presidential debate this month. "If Donald Trump tells us to take it, I'm not taking it."

Trump, meanwhile, says the whole process will be led by scientists.

The president has frequently spoken of a fast timeline for the development of a vaccine, something that critics say has raised concerns about the politicization of a vaccine.

"That has to be approved by the White House," Trump told reporters at a White House briefing last month. "We may or may not approve it. That sounds like a political move."

At least four vaccines are currently being tested on humans, and drugmakers are preparing to mass-produce a vaccine once it's approved.