President Donald Trump on Friday said he would delay sending an approved COVID-19 vaccine to New York until Gov. Andrew Cuomo authorizes it.
“We won't be delivering it to New York until we have authorization to do so, and that pains me to say that," Trump said, pointing to criticism Cuomo has made of the federal government's vaccination distribution plan.
Cuomo went on CNN and MSNBC immediately after the president spoke Friday to respond.
“The day they distribute the vaccine, we will be ready to start the distribution," the governor said on MSNBC. "Our review of the FDA protocol will be simultaneously concurrent with their delivery. We are not going to have any lag-in time. But I want to be able to say to the people of this state trust the vaccine.”
The New York governor in September had already announced the state would conduct its own review of the vaccine's safety and effectiveness, as well as develop a distribution plan.
"It's a way to build confidence," Cuomo said in an MSNBC interview. "It's not just New York. Seven states have a panel to review it."
As for Trump, Cuomo said, "None of what he said is true -- surprise, surprise."
The president's statement came during a Rose Garden update on "Operation Warp Speed," where Trump discussed the progress of a vaccine, and a national distribution plan. Earlier this week, the most promising vaccine news came when Pfizer announced it had a vaccine that was 90% effective. As of now, no vaccine has been approved for distribution.
Federal officials say the first doses of the vaccine, about 20 million of them, will go out next month, followed by another 20 million in January. It likely won’t be widely available to the public until the spring.
Cuomo has knocked the Trump administration's plan to rely heavily on private sector pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens to distribute a vaccine. He has said that that discriminates against communities of color, which don’t necessarily have ready access to those stores.
At the same time, Cuomo has said he's concerned the federal government is seeking personal identification numbers, which could lead to the exposure of undocumented immigrants.
Cuomo has previously raised concerns a vaccine would be rushed by Trump for political purposes and putting its safety in doubt.
Earlier this week, in an interview with Good Morning America, Cuomo raised doubts about the vaccine plan - remarks that were widely criticized by Republicans.
“Well, it’s good news, bad news, George," Cuomo said in the interview. "The good news is, the Pfizer tests look good and we will have a vaccine shortly. The bad news is that it’s about two months before Joe Biden takes over, and that means this administration is going to be implementing the vaccine plan.”
Rich Azzopardi, a senior advisor to the governor, wrote on Twitter that Trump "has failed with his pandemic response, lied to Americans about how bad it was when he knew otherwise & was fired by voters for his incompetence. @NYGovCuomo is fighting to ensure the communities hit hardest by COVID get the vaccine. Feds providing 0 resources."
Attorney General Letitia James in a statement released later in the afternoon said her office was ready to sue the federal government if the vaccine is delayed for New York.
“This is nothing more than vindictive behavior by a lame-duck president trying to extract vengeance on those who oppose his politics," James said in the statement.
"Once there is a fully-developed COVID-19 vaccine, we are confident that a Biden-Harris Administration will provide New York with the proper number of doses so that our state’s residents can achieve immunity. If dissemination of the vaccine takes place in the twilight of a Trump Administration and the president wants to play games with people’s lives, we will sue and we will win.”