New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asked Pfizer Inc Chief Executive Albert Bourla on Monday if the state could buy COVID-19 vaccine doses directly from the U.S. drugmaker.
Pfizer, however, told Reuters that such a proposal would first require approval by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“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”, Cuomo said in a letter to Pfizer’s CEO.
“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,” Cuomo wrote.
Cuomo said he was appealing to Pfizer directly as the company was “not bound by commitments” that Moderna Inc made as part of Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government’s program to distribute COVID-19 vaccines.
No state has purchased vaccines directly from the producer. Cuomo’s letter did not state how many doses he was seeking or how he would pay for it.
Outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration had promised to administer 20 million vaccinations by the end of 2020 but only about 10.6 million people had received one or more doses as of last Friday.
Pfizer said it was open to collaborating with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in a way that would ensure quick vaccine distribution to as many Americans as possible.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Howard Goller)