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Cuomo: NY to review any fed-OK'd vaccine

The governor will appoint experts to investigate any federally approved vaccine and decide how it would be distributed

Joseph Spector New York State Team

ALBANY — New York will conduct its own review of any COVID-19 vaccine approved by the federal government before the vaccines are released in the state and then will prioritize who get them first, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.

Cuomo ripped the federal response to the pandemic and questioned whether he would trust any vaccine decision made by the Trump administration amid the presidential campaign.

"Frankly, I'm not going to trust the federal government's opinion, and I'm not going to recommend to New Yorkers based on the federal government's opinion," Cuomo said during a press briefing in Manhattan.

Cuomo said he will appoint a team of experts to review any federal approval of a vaccine and then would decide how any vaccine deemed safe would be distributed.

"We should be the model vaccination program in the country," Cuomo said, saying a goal should be to become the first state in the nation to be COVID-free.

The process, though, could be onerous. The vaccine is expected to come in two shots, which with 19.5 million people in New York, would mean 40 million doses. They are also expected to need to be stored at minus 80 degrees Celsius.

"This will be a Herculean operational and medical undertaking," he said.

There was no immediate timeline when any state review would be done, and it is certainly unclear when any federal vaccine approval would be completed.

But Cuomo said the state needs to get ready.

New York has had the most deaths in the nation at more than 26,000, but it has lowered its daily infection and death rates to among the lowest in the nation.

The state will create a Clinical Advisory Task Force of scientists, doctors and experts to review every vaccine authorized by the federal government for distribution.

Then it would recommend to state health officials on the "safety and effectiveness" of the vaccines.

From there, the state will develop a vaccine plan that would prioritize the shots based on clinical guidance and who would need them first, such as people with health problems and first responders.

The state would also have to develop a distribution network, figure out who is qualified to distribute the vaccine and how it would be paid for.

Cuomo vowed the decisions will not be made based on politics, but "addressed as a public health matter."