Gov. Andrew Cuomo today laid out some preliminary plans for dispersing as many as 40 million coronavirus vaccine doses in New York, even though a proven preventative dosage is not yet available.
Cuomo warned that storing, dispersing and prioritizing the dissemination of the vaccine for 20 million New Yorkers could prove the most challenging stage of battling Covid-19.
For context: New York, so far, has conducted nearly 13 million coronavirus tests.
Some vaccines under trial now require two doses for each person, three to four weeks apart. That means each person would need two dosages.
“How do you administer 40 million vaccines in New York?” Cuomo said. “This is just a few weeks to plan this massive undertaking,” he said, assuming that the most hopeful prediction is a vaccine might be available before the end of the year.
“It gives you a scale of how daunting this task is,” he said.
That’s why, he said, planning will start now.
Prioritizing the vaccinations is a big part of the challenge. Cuomo today suggested that frontline health workers would be first in line, followed by people with health risks.
So far, some studies show a vaccine might have to be stored at 80 degrees below Celsius, he said. New York needs to build this storage capacity, he said.
Cuomo is calling this new effort a Vaccine Administration Program. He said the state will run it. Hospitals, pharmacies, other healthcare institutions and local governments would be involved.
He offered few details about how this distribution would work. He said many questions remain: When and how would the federal government disperse the vaccine across the state? Will there be a federal plan?
“We don’t really know how many doses we’re going to get,” he said. “We don’t know when we’re going to get it.”
Plus, he added, “Who is going to pay to do this?”
Cuomo, who is chair of the National Governors Association, said the group has sent a list of 36 questions to the White House about allocating the vaccine to states. Will it be determined by population, virus caseloads, vulnerable populations? Will the doses come in batches? All at once?
“Is the federal government going to do that prioritization?” Cuomo asked.
The governor also said he’s setting up a state task force to study any vaccine before recommending New York disseminate it.
“Hopefully the last chapter of Covid is this winter,” he said. “Knock formica,” he said, as he tapped on a table.
On Saturday, 1,390 new cases were detected across the state out of 128,763 test results. That’s a positive rate of 1.08%.
Seven more people died in the past day, Cuomo reported. The state has reported a total of 25,644 people have died related to coronavirus since March.
As of today, 913 are hospitalized statewide.
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