Covid-19 Live Updates: Cuomo to Form Panel to Vet Federally Authorized Vaccines

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said New York State would conduct its own review of vaccines authorized by the federal government amid concern that the approval process has become politicized.

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Cuomo is forming a panel to review federally authorized vaccines, citing concerns the process has become politicized.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Thursday that New York would review coronavirus vaccines that are approved by the federal government, giving the state a potentially contentious new role in the process a day after President Trump raised doubts about tougher F.D.A. guidelines.

“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,” Mr. Cuomo said at a news briefing.

New York officials do not play a role in the approval process for a possible vaccine, but under the current plan they would help determine how it would be distributed throughout the state. In theory, officials could delay such distribution if they believed the vaccine was not safe.

Officials in the state and in New York City have said that for months they have been discussing a vaccine rollout plan.

The governor’s remarks, which echoed earlier calls for state oversight of any vaccine, threatened to further complicate a vaccine process that has become mired in political debate and for months has faced mistrust from the American public.

Mr. Cuomo said that he was alarmed when, on Wednesday, Mr. Trump suggested that the White House might reject new F.D.A. guidelines that would toughen the process for approving a coronavirus vaccine.

Mr. Trump said the F.D.A. plan sounded “like a political move,” a comment that yet again threatened to undermine government officials who have been working to boost public faith in a promised vaccine. Just hours earlier, four senior physicians leading the federal coronavirus response strongly endorsed the tighter safety procedures, which would involve getting outside expert approval before a vaccine could be declared safe and effective by the F.D.A.

Polls have shown a remarkable decrease in the number of Americans who would be willing to take a vaccine once it is approved. A survey conducted this month by the Pew Research Center found that 51 percent of Americans would either probably or definitely take a vaccine, a significant drop from 72 percent in May.

The chief concern among those surveyed was that the vaccine approval process would move too quickly without taking time to properly establish safety and effectiveness.

The development and quick production of a vaccine is seen as crucial to ending the pandemic, which has claimed more than 202,000 lives in the United States, 32,000 of them in New York State.

Mr. Cuomo’s stated concerns echoed comments made by Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee for president, who last week pushed the issue of a potential vaccine into the center of the 2020 race. Mr. Biden accused Mr. Trump of exerting political pressure on the vaccine process and trying to speed up the approval of a vaccine to help him win re-election.

To vet a vaccine, Mr. Cuomo said that he would assemble a panel of scientists, doctors and public health experts who would review its safety and effectiveness, after the federal government approves it.

The governor wants the group, led by the state Department of Health, to advise him, “so I can look at the camera and I can say to New Yorkers that it’s safe to take.”

Mr. Cuomo also said that he would create a second panel to determine how to implement and distribute the vaccine, including who to prioritize in the vaccination process. The governor seemed wary of the logistics involved in administering a two-shot vaccine, saying such a treatment would require 40 million doses to fully inoculate the state’s population, which is nearly 20 million.

The action by the governor, a third-term Democrat, is just his latest clash with Mr. Trump and his administration, including recent threats by the Department of Justice to withhold federal funding from New York City. The president suggested that the governor and Mayor Bill de Blasio had allowed “anarchy” to take hold in the nation’s largest city.

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‘It Won’t Be Politics,’ F.D.A. Chief Says of Vaccine Approval Process

Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, told lawmakers he was confident that the development of a coronavirus vaccine would be safe from political interference.

“We have not made a commitment to the timeline per se because we haven’t seen the data, and we don’t know the complexity of the data or the amount of data that will come our way. What I can tell you, sir, is we do feel the urgency of the moment. We do take very much — very seriously our responsibility to protect American lives. We will not delay, but we will not cut corners in our process.” “Dr. Hahn, you said that you have every confidence in the scientists and staff at F.D.A. And I appreciate that and I do too, by the way — is there some kind of deep state that you have seen in the F.D.A. that is any way trying to do anything other than quickly get a vaccine, get therapeutics to the American public?” “Senator, I will answer your question this way. I have 100 percent confidence in the outstanding scientists, doctors, nurses, pharmacists at F.D.A. who have remarkably stood up during this pandemic to help expedite getting medical products to the American people. I have complete confidence in their decisions. And I have complete confidence in the actions that have been taken to date.” “And that confidence is based on following the science not any political pressure, and that’s what we’re expecting with a vaccine approval.” “Yes, sir. And I’ve said that several times today, and I appreciate the opportunity to say it again, our career scientists for any medical products, and particularly vaccines, will follow the science and data and our rigorous standards. And it won’t be politics that make any part of that decision, sir.”


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