Cuomo blames drug companies, President Trump for speedy COVID-19 vaccines

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo actually blamed President Trump and drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna for being so fast in coming up with coronavirus vaccines that show signs they may be very effective in ending the pandemic.

Cuomo accused Trump of stroking his own ego and the drug companies of prioritizing their wallets ahead of public health as the chief reasons behind accelerated coronavirus vaccine trials and results, despite the governor’s own attempts to control the vaccine’s anticipated distribution in New York until he gives it the all-clear.

“Why is it moving so fast? Two reasons: money and ego. The first drug company that has the vaccine, that is big money,” Cuomo argued on Hot 97’s Ebro in the Morning radio show Tuesday.

“You didn’t need Trump to tell the vaccine companies you should develop a vaccine. He had nothing to do with it. Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, they all know this is billions of dollars, whoever gets to the market first. So it’s in their economic interest to push this fast,” he argued, naming top pharmaceutical companies — Pfizer and Moderna — that have been conducting coronavirus drug trials since the spring and have released promising preliminary results for curing the deadly virus, showing over 90 percent efficacy.

Those initial findings — announced by Pfizer last week and Moderna on Monday — have been heralded by scientists across the nation including Dr. Anthony Fauci who said if and when the FDA approves Pfizer’s drug, even he will take it.

“President, it’s ego. On the way out the door he wants to be able to say, ‘I solved COVID because I discovered a vaccine. Nah, it’s all BS. He didn’t do anything,” Cuomo continued.

“It’s the drug companies and nobody is going to trust him saying it’s a safe vaccine. But you’re going to see this play out, they’ll do what’s called an emergency authorization by the FDA.”

He continued: “I think that could happen as soon as January where the FDA, because Trump will push them, will say we authorized the drug for emergency use, and you could see it starting in January before Biden gets into office and that’s why I’m pushing so hard to make sure that we have a process in place to check what the FDA says before people start getting the vaccine in New York.”

Meanwhile, Cuomo has comprised his own Empire State-staffed panel of medical and logistical experts slated to conduct a secondary review of the Trump administration’s drug distribution plan, arguing the federal plan is “flawed.”

He went as far as to say last week: “We can’t let this vaccination plan go forward the way that Trump and his administration is designing it.”

Cuomo admitted Tuesday that “down the road” Americans will want to get the vaccine, but then said that’s why he thinks Trump’s plan is discriminatory, as the distribution plan relies on private doctors, hospitals and pharmacies which are more limited compared to predominantly white areas.

Over the weekend, the third-term Democrat threatened to sue the federal government, arguing Trump’s plan sidelines of minority and lower income communities.

“Once you get past the trust factor on the vaccine, right, then I think it’s going to be the opposite. People are going to want the vaccine. The question is going to be who gets it first and it’s going to be like the COVID test,” he explained.

“Oh, the rich people get it first; the connected people get it first. And that’s why I’m fighting for a mechanism that brings social equity, where the public housing projects get it first and the low-income communities get it first.”

“Why? Because Blacks died at twice the rate; Blacks are infected at twice the rate. Brown people are infected at twice the rate. That’s why they should get the vaccine first. I think it’s going to be a fight for the vaccine, initially, whether or not it’s mandatory that’s going to be down the road and that’s going to be controversial,” he added.

The White House said the vaccine would be effectively distributed to those in need.

“President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed continues to expedite the regulatory process while providing billions of dollars to a portfolio of companies in the process of delivering a safe and effective vaccine five times faster than any other in history,” said White House spokesman Michael Bars.

“The recent announcements by Pfizer and Moderna regarding their incredibly promising and impressive efficacy data further demonstrate that the Warp Speed program is rapidly advancing on a trajectory of success to the benefit of millions of at-risk Americans.”

additional reporting by Steven Nelson

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