Cuomo criticizes federal Covid-19 vaccination plan, threatens legal action

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has once again criticized President Donald Trump’s administration’s vaccine distribution plan, saying its inequities will hurt the country and its people.

“The Trump administration’s proposed plan is such an affront. I tell you today if the Trump administration does not change this plan and does not provide an equitable vaccine process, we will enforce our legal rights, we will bring legal action to protect New Yorkers,” Xinhua news agency quoted Cuomo as saying on Sunday while speaking at the Riverside Church in Manhattan.

“Let me be clear, the black and brown communities that were first on the list of who died cannot be last on the list of who receives the vaccine,” he added.

In his address, the Governor stressed the need to make special efforts with the vaccine to “reach the underserved black, brown and poor communities”, such as enlisting communal and faith-based groups to distribute the vaccine in their communities to help cover the blind spots of the private market, and finding medical and outreach teams to help public housing projects and low-income communities benefit from the vaccination plan.

“The Reverend Dr. (Martin Luther) King who spoke in this magnificent church said of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhumane because it often results in physical death. Covid-19 proved Dr. King right.

“New York state will mobilize an army to vaccinate all New Yorkers fairly, equitably. No state will do it better,” said Cuomo.

On November 13 while speaking about the federal government’s vaccination plan, Trump said that a coronavirus vaccine would not be delivered to “New York until we have authorization to do so”.

Cuomo “doesn’t trust where the vaccine is coming from… These are coming from the greatest companies anywhere in the world, greatest labs in the world, but he doesn’t trust the fact that it’s this White House, this administration”, the President said.

The Governor has refuted the President’s claim, saying: “It’s not that people don’t trust the vaccine companies, the pharmaceutical companies… An overwhelming percentage of Americans are worried about political interference in the vaccination process and the approval process by the president.”

A number of states, including New York, have set up a separate scientific panel that will review the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval to give people confidence in the vaccine approval process, he added.

“The federal government did not create the vaccine. Private drug companies, pharma companies are creating the vaccines. He has created problems for the vaccine because the vaccine is only relevant if people will take it, and we want people to take it,” the Governor said.

In the past weeks, Cuomo has repeatedly criticized the federal government’s Covid-19 vaccination program, saying it relied too much on private entities and overlooked the minorities and the disadvantaged groups.

The National Governors Association, which Cuomo chairs, also sent letters to the federal government for clarification and improvement of its vaccination program.