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Alexander: New York and California Governors Should Stop Second Guessing FDA on Safety and Efficacy of COVID-19 Vaccines

WASHINGTON, October 24, 2020 — The Chairman of the U.S. Senate health committee said today that the governors of New York and California should respect career scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and stop second guessing the scientists’ decisions on the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines.

The governors have announced they are setting up their own state COVID-19 vaccine review panels. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) said, “Frankly, I’m not going to trust the federal government’s opinion,” and California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) said, “Of course we won't take anyone's word for it.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) urged the governors not to interfere with the decisions of career scientists. “Every day Americans take the word of these scientists’ approval of safety and efficacy when we purchase 3.8 billion prescriptions each year,” he said.

The senator said that he had telephoned White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in October to urge the White House not to interfere with the standards set by career scientists at FDA. “The White House did exactly what I had urged. They respected those decisions and did not change a word. The governors of New York and California should show the same respect to the FDA career scientists that the White House did. Undermining the FDA’s gold standard of safety and efficacy by setting up state vaccine review panels could delay approval, discourage Americans from taking the vaccine, and cost lives,” Alexander said.

Alexander concluded his remarks on the Senate floor today: “I would hope that these Democratic Governors would instead focus their time and resources on planning to distribute the vaccine, and improving testing and contact tracing with the resources Congress has provided, rather than second guessing the efforts of FDA scientists.”

Watch Chairman Alexander’s full remarks here.