ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that New York will receive 170,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses by Dec. 15.
Cuomo said that the vaccines will be distributed once they are approved by the FDA and then reviewed by a state panel. He said the 170,000 is based on the CDC reporting that a limited number of vaccinations will be distributed in each state and it will be based on the percentage of a state’s population to the overall population of the country.
That first batch of 170,000 vaccines will be those manufactured by Pfizer, Cuomo said, and another batch of a yet-unknown size is expected two weeks later from Moderna, another pharmaceutical company.
By the end of the month, 20 million people are expected to be vaccinated nationally — about 6 percent of the country’s population.
The Food and Drug Administration has a critical meeting next Thursday to authorize emergency use.
Cuomo said if approval is granted, the first doses will go to nursing home residents and health care workers.
He also said that people are skeptical of any vaccine that is rushed for approval by the FDA, which is why he’s calling on a state panel to also review any vaccine prior to being distributed in New York.
“The New York panel will review the FDA’s approval. Why? Because we know we have existing skepticism about the vaccine. Our panel did not create the skepticism. The skepticism existed and that’s why we created the review panel,” Cuomo said. “The Kaiser poll says 60 percent of Americans are skeptical about the vaccine approval process. Kaiser is not a political organization. Pew poll says about 50 percent of Americans are skeptical about the vaccine. That is very, very troubling. If people think the vaccine approval process was politicized, they’re going to be less likely to take the vaccine.”
The governor also cited experts who say the “normal economy” will return when between 75 and 85 percent of the population is vaccinated. But that process, he said, will likely take until June or September depending on the efficiency of the distribution process, which he described as the “largest governmental operation undertaken since World War II.”
The FDA has a critical meeting next Thursday to authorize emergency use.
Meanwhile, the governor is continuing to tell residents to do what they can to mitigate spread and avoid overwhelming healthcare facilities.
“The biggest fear is overwhelming the hospitals, period. That’s where we are and that is a serious, serious concern,” Cuomo said. “We know the capacity of hospitals – 54,000 statewide. We know it by region. Manage that load. Increase and balance the testing. There is a lot of demands on testing. You have to test nursing homes, you have to test essential workers, you have to test business professionals who have licenses, who have to be tested as part of their work. You want to be fair in balancing that testing.”
The governor also indicated that it is up to every resident to work to slow the spread and urged them to follow the advice of health experts and also his executive order guidelines.
“My personal opinion is that you’re going to see the increase continue all through the holidays. You’ll see it continue through January 2 and then the lag for the testing and hospitalization which takes you to about mid-January. The question is, how fast do the cases increase? Nobody can tell you because it depends on what people do. It is up to us. There is no pre-determined fate. It is a pure function of what New Yorkers do. It’s a pure function of social action,” the governor said. “What can government do during this period? We can warn people. We can educate people. We can enforce restrictions. We can do testing and tracing.”