Pfizer responds to Cuomo, says HHS approval needed to sell COVID vaccine to NY

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Pfizer says it would need federal approval to sell its coronavirus vaccine to New York, dashing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s hopes of buying the shots directly.

Cuomo asked the Manhattan-based drugmaker about placing a COVID-19 vaccine order on Monday as he complained that the feds had left the state facing a shortage.

But Pfizer said the US Department of Health and Human Services would have to approve such an arrangement based on the emergency use authorization that the Food and Drug Administration granted for the groundbreaking vaccine.

“Pfizer is open to collaborating with HHS on a distribution model that gives as many Americans as possible access to our vaccine as quickly as possible,” the company said in a statement.

Cuomo had argued that Pfizer could sell directly to states because it was “not bound by commitments” that rival vaccine maker Moderna made to Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s initiative to develop and distribute the shots.

“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,” Cuomo wrote in a letter to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

A coronavirus adviser to President-elect Joe Biden also threw cold water on Cuomo’s pitch, saying it could do more harm than good.

“I think Governor Cuomo, himself, had said back in the spring that the situation around ventilators was essentially ‘one big eBay’ with all of the states bidding against one another for ventilators, and I think this kind of an approach to vaccine allocation is going to result, frankly, in the same kind of situation that he, himself, was criticizing last spring,” Dr. Celine Gounder, a member of Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board, told CNBC on Monday.

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