Frustrated by the flow of coronavirus vaccine from the federal government, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday floated the idea of buying shots for New Yorkers directly from one of the vaccine makers, Pfizer.
The idea seemed far from a sure bet, with the pharmaceutical giant saying it would need federal approval to sell to state governments. If that were to happen, the cost and amount have yet to be be discussed.
Regardless, Cuomo said he felt compelled to broach the idea as his state, like many others, faces tough vaccine math. At the current pace of federal vaccine shipments to New York, it could take six months or more to get shots to the 7 million residents already eligible under federal guidelines, let alone the roughly 12 million other New Yorkers. Residents have been scrambling to try to get the shots, with many getting shut out and upset.
“My job as governor of New York is to pursue every avenue, and that’s what I’m doing,” the Democratic governor said at a virtual news conference as he released a letter he’d written to New York-based Pfizer about his idea. He told the company it “could help us save lives right here in New York.”
Pfizer Inc., which developed one of the current vaccines with German partner BioNTech, said in a statement that it appreciated Cuomo’s praise and was open to working with the federal Health and Human Services Department on getting the shots as quickly as possible to as many Americans as it could.
“However, before we can sell directly to state governments, HHS would need to approve that proposal,” the company said.