Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke to the media on Monday, expressing concern about a possible coronavirus vaccine. He said:
“New York is in the midst of the sea of division and COVID increase. All around us the COVID infection rate is going up. You see it in states all across the nation. You see it in countries around the globe, and you see it in contiguous states, New Jersey, Connecticut. Connecticut may be changing their restrictions. New Jersey may be changing their restrictions. Pennsylvania has a real issue. So, we should be on high alert, and we should be even more diligent, because the virus spreads and it just goes across state boundaries, and we're in the party season; Halloween; coming into Thanksgiving; students are going home. All I can do is warn New Yorkers and ask them to remember what worked for us, and what worked for us is discipline and smart; that's what worked for us, and we have to keep it up because these are dangerous, dangerous times. We're going to stay with the microcluster approach; it has worked. But I'm telling you these are danger signs all around us.
“Another topic that is very important that we need to focus on – we the collective 'we' – the vaccination program is going to be the most labor intensive task that we have undertaken. It will be the greatest operational task government has undertaken through this COVID pandemic. What you've seen is governmental incompetence exposed, right? My theory is you've had government that has atrophied. You have government leaders now who are not really government leaders. They're politicians who said the right thing to get elected, but many of them are not competent, qualified government leaders, and you're seeing the difference now between government competence and incompetence, and you're seeing the difference between a government leader and a person who was elected to office but was not a government leader.
“When you see what we have to do for vaccines it's going to be even a more rigorous test. Testing, management of the hospital system, contact tracing were the most rigorous governmental challenges we faced to date, required hiring thousands of people, setting up hundreds of sites, massive coordination. Some states did it better than others. Our state, he says with all due humility, on the numbers New York state has done it better than anyone else.
“Vaccination is going to be more challenging than anything we've done. The federal government is designing the vaccination program. The vaccination program they designed is very simple – big pharma will produce the vaccines. As they're produced, they will become available. The military will be in charge of shipping them, although the military says they're going to use commercial shippers like FedEx and another company called McKinnon; and they'll ship them to the states and then the states will be responsible for the distribution – except the distribution mechanism that the federal government has designated is the traditional private health infrastructure.
“The same way you'd get a flu vaccine, you can go to a CVS, you can go to Walgreens, you can go to your doctor's office, you can go to a hospital – that infrastructure, No. 1, is incapable of expediting the vaccination process. How do you know that? It is the same infrastructure we used to do testing, and that infrastructure has produced 120 million COVID tests over eight months. The infrastructure would have to do 330 million dosages twice, 660. If it took that infrastructure eight months to do 120 million COVID tests, how long does it take that same infrastructure to do 660 million vaccines? It's math.
“Second, the infrastructure will have a discriminatory effect, because the infrastructure does not exist to the same extent in poor communities and Black and brown communities, and the Black and brown communities are the communities with the highest COVID infection rate and the highest COVID mortality rate. So, if you had to do any prioritization, you would say get the vaccines to the communities that have the highest infection rates. That would be the Black and brown communities. Give the vaccines to the communities that have the highest mortality rate. That would be the Black and brown communities. Give the vaccines, on a priority basis, to essential workers, because they have to go to the hospitals every day, etc. That would be the Black and brown community. This infrastructure doesn't exist to the extent necessary in the Black and brown community.”