Ron Klain, former White House Ebola Response Coordinator, speaks during a hearing for the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security in Washington, DC, the United States, on Tuesday, March 10, 2020.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said Sunday that US states are unable to purchase Covid-19 vaccines directly from manufacturers, as some are trying to do under emergency use approval issued by the Food and Drug Administration to have.
“This vaccine is subject to emergency approval for legal reasons,” Klain told NBC’s Meet the Press when asked about the inquiries. “I don’t think that’s possible.”
The comments come after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday asked Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla to allow the state to buy vaccines directly from the company, citing the scarcity of supplies.
Pfizer told Cuomo that this was not possible under the terms of his December emergency permit.
The company said it was open to the idea, but “before we could sell directly to state governments, HHS would need to approve this proposal based on the EUA granted to Pfizer by the FDA.”
The Department of Health and Human Services – still under Republican leadership at the time – accused Democrat Cuomo of trying “to get to the top of the line at the expense of other jurisdictions”.
Klain said he believed governors were “understandably frustrated” with the slow pace of vaccinations to date.
The number of vaccines administered falls far short of projections made under President Donald Trump, although the pace has picked up in recent weeks. President Joe Biden has pledged the US will administer 100 million doses of vaccine in his first 100 days in office.
“We’re going to ramp up production. We’re going to ramp up sales. We’re going to work closely with the governors. We’re going to get this vaccine out to the American people,” Klain said.
The Biden government has urged the federal government to strengthen its role in the manufacture and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.
T.J. Ducklo, a White House spokesman, previously opposed state efforts to buy vaccines directly, saying, “We need to take a national approach to vaccination and make sure states don’t compete with each other like PPE, ventilators and testing.” . “
Ducklo didn’t immediately respond to an email on Sunday. The Department of Health and Human Services also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Before Biden took office, other states had asked Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services to allow them to buy vaccines directly from the manufacturer.
The governors of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin – all Democrats – sent a letter on Jan. 15 accusing the Trump administration of botching the introduction of the first vaccine.
“If you cannot or do not want to give us this shipment, we urge you to give us permission to buy vaccines directly so we can distribute them,” wrote the governors.
At least one of these states appears to have been tracking the plan since Biden was inaugurated on Wednesday.
Bobby Leddy, a spokesman for Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, said in one Statement to CBS “We are confident that President Joe Biden will have a clear national strategy, based on data and science, to help our nation overcome this health crisis.”
Subscribe to CNBC Pro for the live TV stream, deep insights and analysis of how to invest during the next president’s term.