In his first public comments since the mainstream media declared Joe Biden the winner of the November 3 election, Trump updated the press on Operation Warp Speed in the White House Rose Garden.
No Vaccine for New York Without Cuomo Approval
Trump said his administration would work to secure emergency use authorization for Pfizer's vaccine against COVID-19, which the company said on Monday had proven to have a 90% effectiveness rate.
He also said the US had three other vaccines that would also be arriving in the next few weeks.
"Millions of doses will soon be going out the door," Trump said. “As soon as April, the vaccine will be available to the entire general population, with the exception of places like New York state where, for political reasons, the governor decided to say - I don't think it's good politically, I think it's very bad from a health standpoint - but he wants to take his time with the vaccine. He doesn't trust where the vaccine is coming from ... We won’t be delivering it to New York until we have authorization to do so."
“We can’t be delivering it to a state that won’t be giving it to its people immediately," Trump said. “The governor will let us know when he’s ready."
Cuomo has long expressed skepticism at Trump's vaccine fast-tracking, saying in September, after Trump claimed a vaccine would be out before the November 3 election, that an independent Clinical Advisory Task Force would evaluate the safety and effectiveness of any vaccine before allowing them to be administering in New York state.
The New York executive renewed those criticisms on Monday in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "Good Morning America."
"And the Trump administration is rolling out the vaccination plan, and I believe it's flawed," Cuomo said. "I believe it learns nothing from the past. They're basically going to have the private providers do it, and that's going to leave out all sorts of communities that were left out the first time when COVID ravaged them."
No Lockdown Amid Skyrocketing Cases
Trump told reporters there would not be a new lockdown to stem the spread of COVID-19 cases in the country, despite historic highs in new cases being reported.
“This administration will not, under any circumstances, be going to a lockdown," Trump said, noting they cost the economy $50 billion a day. "They cost lives."
However, he did say that once the vaccine is released, "you will see numbers going down within a matter of months."
Trump's words come amid by far the largest rise in COVID-19 cases yet. On Thursday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 143,000 new cases and noted the seven-day moving average of new daily cases was 121,496. That’s nearly double the previous highest peak on July 24, when the seven-day average was 66,960 cases per day.
Since the election on November 3, the US has added 1.13 million new COVID-19 cases and 10,686 people have died of the illness, including 1,479 on Thursday.
Biden Team Also Against Lockdowns
However, Biden's COVID-19 response seems unlikely to be significantly different if he takes office on January 20, 2021: two leading members of Biden's COVID-19 task force indicated on Friday that they opposed any kind of widespread lockdowns like those seen in the spring or being reimplemented across Europe recently.
Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine who sits on Biden's task force, told CNBC that it was “not the opinion” of the group to institute widespread closures. “We can be much more targeted geographically. We can also be more targeted in terms of what we close," she said.
Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former US surgeon general who co-chairs the committee, told "Good Morning America" on Friday, “We’re not in a place where we’re saying, ‘Shut the whole country down' ... If we don’t do that, what you’re going to find is that people will become even more fatigued, schools won’t be open to children, and the economy will be hit harder.”