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California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state will independently review the Trump administration's anticipated coronavirus vaccine before approving distribution to its 39 million residents.
"Of course we won't take anyone's word for it," Newsom said Monday as he named 11 doctors and scientists to review any rollout of vaccines by the federal government or vaccine developers.
It is unclear whether the independent review process will set back the distribution process for New York and California in comparison to other states that may be able to deploy it and potentially slow the spread of COVID-19 at a faster rate.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom visits the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s McClellan Reload Base in Sacramento, Calif. (Associated Press)
Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, said Newsom named a renowned group that should be able to quickly make credible decisions.
"I wouldn’t interpret this as a delay in distribution. I would interpret this as an effort to make sure that distribution is equitable and timely," he said. "The people in this group are among the most reputable public health advocates in the state."
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo similarly said in September that his state would conduct an independent review of the vaccine, citing politicization concerns, saying he is "not going to trust the federal government's opinion" during an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."
"The first question is, is the vaccine safe? Frankly, I'm not going to trust the federal government's opinion and I wouldn't recommend to New Yorkers based on the federal government's opinion," Cuomo said at a press conference at the time. He later told ABC's "Good Morning America" that Americans should be "very skeptical" of taking the vaccine.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Gov. Cuomo delivers a COVID-19 update during a briefing in New York City. (Kevin P. Coughlin/ Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo via AP)
White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah told Fox News' "America’s Newsroom" on Tuesday that Cuomo's comments were "highly irresponsible" and "playing politics with a vaccine is extremely dangerous."
Democratic nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris of California have also expressed skepticism with a vaccine developed by the Trump administration, but the nation's top health experts say there is no reason for concern.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in September that he was "not concerned about political pressure." He said later in September that he would not be "muzzled" during an interview on Fox News’ "Daily Briefing."
"The process that's going on in trying to prove the safety and the efficacy of a number of vaccines is a sound process," he said. "I have faith in it, there are outside boards, data and safety monitoring boards, there are committees that advise the FDA about this, so I have confidence that things are going to be done in a scientifically sound manner."
An employee of SinoVac works in a lab at a factory producing its SARS CoV-2 Vaccine for COVID-19 named CoronaVac in Beijing on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins reassured Americans in a September interview with MSNBC that there would be no "shortcuts" in developing a safe vaccine, adding that "there are multiple different layers of oversight of this to make sure that nothing gets pushed through unless it meets the highest standards, probably the highest standards that ever have been applied for a vaccine are going to be applied in this situation."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield shot down accusations of politicization of the vaccine, which he previously said could be available to governors as early as Nov. 1, two days before Nov. 3, during a September Senate hearing.
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"There was absolutely no political thinking about it. You could say [that] retroactively, somebody should have thought a little more political, but there was no political intention whatsoever," he said.
The Trump administration's "Operation Warp Speed' plan to distribute 300 million vaccines with the very first available by January 2021 has directed nearly $10 billion to COVID-19 vaccine research and development. The U.S. is currently testing seven coronavirus vaccines.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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