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Cuomo asks Pfizer if New York State can purchase vaccine directly from them

Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to see if New York State can purchase the Pfizer vaccine directly from the company.

It’s a bold move that hasn’t been tried before in other parts of the U.S. However, as federal rollout slows, Cuomo is looking for options to get more doses in the arms of those who are now eligible by CDC and New York State Department of Health standards.

“I want to thank you and the teams at Pfizer and BioNTech for your hard work to develop a safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19. The last ten months have been exceptionally dark — but your efforts have provided a bright light at the end of the tunnel and hope for a better future. It is abundantly clear that these vaccines are the weapons that will finally win the war against COVID-19. But with hospitalizations and deaths increasing across the country this winter, we are in a footrace with the virus, and we will lose unless we dramatically increase the number of doses getting to New Yorkers,” a letter from Cuomo to the company read. “After myself and seven other governors called on the Trump Administration to release more doses, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said that relief was on the way. To date, however, the federal government has not acted on that promise — in fact, New York will receive just 250,000 doses this week, 50,000 fewer than the week prior.”

Cuomo makes his pitch in the letter, which he hopes will spur a kind of interaction that hasn’t been seen to date during the pandemic.

“Because you are not bound by commitments that Moderna made as part of Operation Warp Speed, I am requesting that the State of New York be permitted to directly purchase doses from you. The distribution of any doses obtained directly from Pfizer will follow the rigorous guidance the State has established, while enabling us to fill the dosage gap created this week by the outgoing federal administration. All of this will further our goal to vaccinate 70 to 90 percent of New Yorkers as soon as possible and reach herd immunity,” he said. “You no doubt understand the challenges New York and other states face. Shifting guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention drove the number of New Yorkers eligible and prioritized for the vaccine from 5 million to 7 million practically overnight. The federal administration essentially opened up a floodgate while cutting our supply — leading to confusion, frustration, and dashed hopes.”

It’s unclear if Pfizer will reciprocate or can make that happen.