ALBANY, NY — November 14, 2020 — Governor Cuomo: “We’re going to have to distribute that vaccine quickly and fairly and Americans are going to have to trust that vaccine to take it. … What New York has done and other states around the country is we’ve said we’ll put together our own panel to review the FDA’s approval process … and that will then give people the comfort to know that they should take this vaccine.”
Cuomo: “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 and the CDC and the FDA, which he did, and that spills over to the vaccine, these separate panels that states will have will give those states confidence. New York is one of those states. There are about seven. It won’t take any more time.”
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Earlier yesterday, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was a guest on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360.
AUDIO is available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor’s interview is available below:
Governor Cuomo: Yeah, good to be with you, Anderson. I think your opening point is very powerful and frames the entire conversation. What the President says doesn’t matter. It’s not true as usual. What he’s going to do in April, he’s not going to be here in April, that I said I would not distribute the vaccine, it’s not true but it doesn’t matter. There are editorials, it’s not true but it doesn’t matter. He’s talking about his friend Rupert Murdoch.
What does matter is this: there is going to be a vaccine, good news, with Pfizer and some other drug companies, and that is good news and then the next step is we’re going to have to distribute that vaccine quickly and fairly and Americans are going to have to trust that vaccine to take it. That matters.
Right now about half of the people in this country, Anderson, say they don’t trust the vaccine. That’s the Kaiser poll, the Pew poll, CNN poll, the network poll, all say the same thing – that they fear that Trump politicized the approval process for the vaccine and therefore they don’t trust it and no one is going to put a needle in their arm if they don’t trust the vaccine.
What New York has done and other states around the country is we’ve said we’ll put together our own panel to review the FDA’s approval process. Our panel is headed by a Nobel Prize laureate, and that will then give people the comfort to now that they should take this vaccine. It won’t take any more time. We’ll do it simultaneously. We’ll do it concurrent. But 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 and the CDC and the FDA, which he did, and that spills over to the vaccine, these separate panels that states will have will give those states confidence. New York is one of those states. There are about seven. It won’t take any more time.
Anderson Cooper: When you talk about this panel, this isn’t something that you have to wait until the vaccine starts to be distributed and the you are going to sit around and think about it and make calls about it. This is something that can happen at the same time as the CDC and others are reviewing this?
Governor Cuomo: Of course. Of course. The President doesn’t tell the truth. What do you want me to tell you? You are right, it doesn’t matter anymore. What does matter is his lying has hurt the nation in many ways and his lying has hurt the nation in that half the Americans don’t trust the vaccine. If they don’t trust it they’re not going to take it. My challenge is and other governors, how do you restore that trust? And we came up with these state panels, all top pros, who will review what FDA did and the protocols and then I can say to the people of my state, it’s safe, take it, because distributing 330 million vaccines is going to be the most ambitious undertaking since this started.
Anderson Cooper: I was talking to Sanjay about it and I hadn’t realized that this Pfizer vaccine has to be stored in really, really cold temperatures, not just like a normal refrigerator. I don’t know the exact Fahrenheit but it’s incredibly cold, cold and a lot of places don’t have that kind of refrigeration. How is that going to be done in New York State? Do we know yet?
Governor Cuomo: We don’t know yet and that’s why when you talk about what we should really be focused on – look, let’s focus on not making the same mistake twice, right? This federal government was totally unprepared for COVID. They were incompetent in their response. They talked about doing testing when we first started, if you remember. They couldn’t figure out how to get nasal swabs.
Eight months, all the COVID testing we’ve done, we’ve done 120 million nationwide. That’s with every state and all this noise for 8 months. 120 million COVID tests. We have to do 330 million vaccines. How long is that going to take? Stored at deep cold – and who has that equipment? How do we get those vaccines to Black and Brown communities and poor communities?
There a lot of questions here that haven’t been answered, that don’t even occur to this federal government. I do believe Joe Biden is going to be ready for the challenge – as ready as anyone can be. I’ve worked with him for many years. I know his team. What we’re trying to solve now is skepticism by the American people who say they don’t trust the vaccine, which is going to be a major problem. On top of all the logistics, when you don’t have people willing to take it, that’s going to be a real challenge.
Anderson Cooper: Let’s talk about New York State and New York City and what you’re facing now and what you think the couple weeks and months look like. Obviously, in every state it’s different, but the trend is alarming. You’ve already made some moves on bars and restaurants in terms of the hours that they can stay open. Gyms right now in New York, they’re still open, they’re allowed 30 percent capacity, I think. I go to a gym, there’s hardly anyone there. Do you see – is the next step shutting down places or do you – if that happened do you see that as a statewide thing? Would that be what they call hot spots?
Governor Cuomo: Nobody really knows, but look, what we’ve done in New York has been working. We follow the science and we follow the data. Remember we had the highest infection rate in the United States of America and now we’re one of the lowest. Our problem is there’s a surge all around us. It’s high tide on the COVID sea – internationally, nationally. States around New York all have higher infection rates.
You’re in the holiday season. People are traveling. You say don’t have groups. It’s Thanksgiving, it’s going to be Christmas, it’s going to be Hanukkah. It’s going to be winter. I think you’re going to see the numbers continue to go up.
Now, New York is at a low level, but you’re seeing the numbers go up and we are adding restrictions as those numbers go up. We’re urging diligence. Yes, there’s a vaccine, but it’s not tomorrow. President Trump is talking about April. You can’t sustain an increase through April. People think the vaccine is going to be the answer. We can’t make it. That’s the light at the end of the tunnel but it’s a long tunnel.
We tend to focus – we do so many tests in New York that we tend to focus on small areas, neighborhood level. It’s what we call micro-clusters. As soon as we see a jump in the number, we stamp it out. That’s what we call those hot spots. Today we did 200,000 tests. More tests than any state in the country. Once we see a flare up, we jump on it.
I think, Anderson, you’re going to see a steady increase through the holiday season at least. That’s scary.
Anderson Cooper: Governor Cuomo, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
Governor Cuomo: Thank you.
SOURCE: New York State | Executive Chamber | Press Office