ALBANY – Amid frustration with the lack of COVID-19 Vaccine availability, New York State is now looking to purchase doses directly.
The idea however might not come to reality, as pharmaceutical giant Pfizer says it would need federal approval to sell to state governments.
Besides, if that were to happen, the cost and amount have yet to be discussed. Regardless Governor Andrew Cuomo says he felt compelled to propose the idea.
“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.
Under the current system, the federal government allocates vaccine doses to states and ships them. The federal Food and Drug Administration’s emergency-based authorization for the Pfizer vaccine specifies that it will be supplied “as directed by the U.S. government.”
The federal government has been paying $19.50 per dose for the Pfizer vaccine and has ordered 200 million doses so far, enough to give the two-shot regimen to 100 million people. Other nations around the world have also placed orders.
Earlier in the pandemic, Cuomo complained last spring about U.S. states competing against one another, or being outbid by the federal government, for then-scarce protective gear and ventilators. At the time, he called on the federal government to nationalize medical supply acquisition of those items.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.