Cuomo, de Blasio appeal to Biden administration over COVID-19 vaccine shortage

Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio in a side-by-side address on March 2, 2020 about the first coronavirus case in New York City. (Photo by Mark Hallum)
Photo by Mark Hallum

Both Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo lamented a clear shortage in COVID-19 vaccines on Monday as the biggest snowstorm since 2016 wreaked havoc across New York City.

Allocations of 300,000 doses per week from the federal government are simply not helping the state meet its own self-imposed goals at this time as 7 million New Yorkers are now eligible for the shots, produced at this time by only Pfizer and Moderna and being distributed across the United States as well as abroad.

Despite FDA approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not quite a reality at this time, about 1.9 million New Yorkers are inoculated against COVID-19.

De Blasio conceded during his morning press conference that President Joe Biden has only been in office since Jan. 20, and that many of the problems with vaccine distribution may be an inherited circumstance. The mayor is attempting a direct discussion with Biden administration officials, nonetheless.

“I understand, especially for a new administration that’s trying to deal with every problem simultaneously, and that they have so much they’re trying to deal with they’re trying to get the immediate supply moving,” de Blasio said. “Under the current conditions, and I really respect their efforts. I think we have to acknowledge, however, that the status quo won’t be able to work well enough under current conditions it just can’t, it’s not presently Biden’s fault is what he was handed. We’ve got to break the mold here we got to do something very, very different. So I’m certainly making this argument to federal colleagues. And, you know, I believe they’re looking at this question but I’ll let them of course speak for themselves.”

The mayor since the start of the pandemic has called for the Defense Production Act of 1950 to be called into service for the production of personal protective equipment and once again said an industrial complex should be mobilized for the production of vaccines.

New York City’s three-day positivity came in at 5.18% on Monday, according to the governor’s office while some capacity remains in hospitals. About 31% of hospital beds are unoccupied at this time with 21% being intensive care unit beds. Deaths on Sunday were tallied at 141 bring the statewide total to 35,319 since the start of the pandemic.

“Overall with COVID vaccinations, it’s just a question of supply and it’s a question of international supply and national supply. It’s not really a supply issue it’s really a production issue, how many drugs can Pfizer, Moderna, any other manufacturers that they approve, how many can they provide?” Cuomo said. “There are 7 million people who are eligible for the vaccine… But we only get 300,000 doses per week. That’s the disconnect and the confusion and the tension.”

What’s the rush?

Concern over the spread of new strains, some yet to be identified in New York, such as the variant originating in Brazil, the United Kingdom and South Africa which are established as being more contagious that the COVID-19 New Yorkers know all too well at this point.