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13 Nov, 2020 22:28

Trump sees Covid-19 vaccine being distributed to high-risk population FOR FREE in weeks, but Cuomo row to delay New York shipments

Trump sees Covid-19 vaccine being distributed to high-risk population FOR FREE in weeks, but Cuomo row to delay New York shipments

President Donald Trump said Pfizer's new Covid-19 vaccine will be made available to the elderly and other high-risk Americans within weeks, but politicization of the drug by Governor Andrew Cuomo will delay shipments to New York.

"We won't be delivering to New York until we have authorization to do so," Trump told reporters Friday at a press briefing. "It pains me to say that.... The governor, Governor Cuomo, will have to let us know when he's ready."

Cuomo said this week that "we can't let this vaccine plan go forward the way Trump is planning it." Trump said that with Cuomo blocking New Yorkers from receiving the vaccine immediately for political reasons, it won't be distributed to the state.

After first rolling out the vaccine to the most vulnerable segments of the population, it will be made available to Americans at large as soon as April, free of charge, Trump said. Distribution will begin within 24 hours of emergency authorization by the FDA. The Trump administration plans to distribute 20 million doses in December and 25 million doses each month thereafter.

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The speed of that distribution could be much faster if more vaccines are approved, as Trump said is likely. Three other vaccines are in the final stages of their trials.

The Trump administration agreed to provide $1.95 billion to support Pfizer’s making of 900 million doses of the vaccine and secured an option to buy 600 million doses. The drugmaker said Monday that its BioNTech vaccine proved 90 percent effective in a late-stage trial.

Pfizer was one of six drugmakers or groups that received help under the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed program, which aimed to develop a Covid-19 vaccine by year’s end. Trump said it was an “unfortunate mistake” and a “misrepresentation” for Pfizer to claim that it wasn’t part of the operation because the administration provided up-front funding for doses. He said vaccines typically take eight to 12 years to develop, and under different leadership, the Covid-19 vaccine would have taken three to five years.

“No medical breakthrough of this scope and magnitude has been achieved this rapidly,” Trump said. He added that vaccinating at-risk groups will “effectively end this phase of the pandemic and allow seniors to reclaim their golden years.”

Trump said advances with Covid-19 therapeutics, such as Remdesivir, have helped reduce the US mortality rate from the virus by 85 percent. The rate of new cases remains high because the US does far more testing for the virus than any other country, he said.

Democrat Joe Biden, who was declared president-elect by media outlets last week, plans to impose a national mask mandate to slow the spread of Covid-19 when he takes office in January and has said he will consider an economic lockdown if his medical experts advise such a measure. Trump, who is legally contesting results of the November 3 election because of alleged voting fraud, said there will be no national lockdown under any circumstances if he wins a second term.

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“Whatever happens in the future – who knows which administration will be, I guess time will tell – I can tell you this administration will not go to a lockdown,” he said. “They won’t be a necessity. Lockdowns cost lives, and they cost a lot of problems. The cure cannot be, you’ve got to remember, cannot be worse than the problem itself.”

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