New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office released a vaccine administration plan on Sunday, which will feature a ‘task force’ of his own doctors who will assess the COVID-19 vaccine for safety and bar its administration if necessary.
The Trump administration says a vaccine could be just “weeks away.”
The Vaccine Administration Program, or VPA is headed by virologist Charles M. Rice, a Rockefeller University scholar and Nobel Prize laureate whose main area of research is Hepatitis C.
Seven New York doctors, including practicing physicians and academics, will render decisions on the safety of the vaccine.
The Democratic governor bashed the Centers for Disease Control during an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America.
“I’m not that confident [in the CDC] but my opinion doesn’t matter,” Cuomo said.
“You’re going to say, ‘here’s a vaccine it was new, done quickly but trust this administration that it’s safe?’ I think it’s going to be a very skeptical American public and they should be.”
He argued that health officials will need medical experts outside of the FDA and CDC to deem the coronavirus vaccine safe.
“What I said I’m going to do in New York is put together our own group of doctors and medical experts to review the vaccine, the efficacy and the protocol. If they say it’s safe, I’ll go to the people of New York and I will say it’s safe,” Cuomo said.
“The Task Force will advise on the vaccine safety profile, legal authority to withhold vaccine, and clinical best practices if New York State must withhold or pause distribution of the vaccine,” he added.
The governor’s reckless decision to send recovering COVID-19 patients back into nursing homes at the height of the coronavirus pandemic led to the deaths of a reported 6,600 patients.
This disaster has not stopped Cuomo from congratulating himself on his pandemic response in a new book called Lessons in Leadership.
Bereaved New Yorkers who lost family members to COVID-19 while they were in nursing homes staged a coffin demonstration Sunday outside a health center in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. They demanded an apology from the governor.
The protesters set up a silver casket with 6,500 copies of the cover of Cuomo’s book, symbolizing the number of New Yorkers who died in nursing home facilities since the COVID-19 outbreak began.
In June Cuomo confirmed a New York Times analysis that 21% of coronavirus deaths in New York occurred in nursing homes, but said infected staff was to blame.
“There’s no doubt in nursing homes all across this nation, that’s where we saw most of the deaths. Not most, but almost 50% of the deaths. Senior citizens in congregate settings. And it’s becoming more and more clear that the infection in the nursing homes came from the staff that got infected and brought it in,” he said.
He diverted blame for the deaths from any connection with the directive he issued on March 25 which forced nursing homes to accept known COVID-positive patients while also prohibiting them from testing patients for the virus prior to admission.
This policy remained in place for more than six weeks before Cuomo reversed it in May after mounting criticism from healthcare workers, nursing home industry advocates, and family members of residents.
Cuomo also granted civil immunity to nursing homes, which eliminated the fear of lawsuits on behalf of residents, leaving them vulnerable to negligence and abuse. Families in New York state were unable to advocate for their relatives after they were banned from visitation for several months.
Cuomo said New York’s elderly were safer in nursing homes than their own homes and argued that the state’s nursing homes handled the pandemic much better than others.