A week after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that a panel of experts from his state would independently test all federally approved coronavirus vaccines before they were administered to residents, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada governors announced that they were themselves would join the efforts of California.
The move comes as leaders across the country face a vaccine development process that many fear will become overly politicized.
“We believe in science, public health and safety,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee in a statement. “So I’m delighted that Washington is joining California and other western states.”
In September, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that his state would independently review all vaccines and said President Trump had politicized the approval process.
“To be honest, I will not trust the opinion of the federal government,” said Cuomo at the time.
However, in a press conference on Tuesday, Mr Newsom stressed that the additional review was intended to reinforce the federal results and ensure that western states have planned in detail who should be able to receive the premature doses that are expected to be very limited . He said it wouldn’t stall the process or add an extra layer of politics.
“It won’t cause any delays,” Newsom said. “It will increase transparency and confidence.”
About two-thirds of Californians polled in a recent Public Policy Institute of California poll said they were concerned about the development of a vaccine that is developing too quickly.
California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly added that the review would not include continuation or duplication of vaccine trials. Rather, the panel will look at data and other information, “much of which is reported publicly through the eyes of experts,” he said.
The review will allow states to plan a complex distribution process in detail and with fairness in mind.
“The independent review by this body of doctors, scientists and health professionals will ensure that a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine is available to all, especially communities disproportionately affected by the disease,” said Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown. said in a statement.
This is not the first time governors have worked together across state lines, but rather outside the remit of the federal government. In April, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Colorado signed a Western States Pact because many states were reluctant to implement pandemic-related restrictions.
Mr Newsom said the group was largely a way to share best practices rather than a formal arrangement to act together.
Recently, governors have also been discussing how to deal with vaccine distribution. Earlier this month, Mr. Cuomo, as head of the bipartisan National Governors Association, asked additional questions about how the Trump administration will ensure that states can receive and distribute vaccines.