NEW YORK – As the rollout of the vaccine has been very slow across the United States, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wrote to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla on January 18 requesting “the ability to buy COVID-19 vaccine doses directly from the company,” CNBC reported.
The pharmaceutical company, however, in a statement said that “the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would need to approve such a model first,” CNBC reported.
The United States is “millions of injections short of the Trump administration’s initial projections,” CNBC reported, adding that “as of Jan. 15, the U.S. had distributed more than 31 million doses and administered just over 12 million.”
“Health officials had hoped to inject 20 million Americans by the end of 2020,” CNBC reported.
Gov. Cuomo, a Democrat, “blamed the Trump administration for failing to send enough vaccine doses to his state,” CNBC reported, noting that “this week, he said, New York would receive 250,000 doses — 50,000 fewer than the week before.”
In his letter to Bourla, Cuomo “suggested Pfizer should be able to sell directly to his state, bypassing federal agencies, since Pfizer is ‘not bound by commitments that Moderna made as part of Operation Warp Speed,’” CNBC reported.
Cuomo continued in the letter, “The company’s decision to opt out of Operation Warp Speed, which the Biden administration plans to overhaul, puts it in a unique situation that could help us save lives right here in New York,” CNBC reported.
Pfizer told CNBC “that model would first have to be cleared under the emergency use authorization granted by the Food and Drug Administration for the drug’s use.”
Pfizer said in its statement it “is open to collaborating with HHS on a distribution model that gives as many Americans as possible access to our vaccine as quickly as possible. However, before we can sell directly to State governments, HHS would need to approve that proposal based on the EUA granted to Pfizer by the FDA,” CNBC reported.
HHS representatives had not responded to requests for comment at press time.