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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Thursday that the state will move forward with its own review process of coronavirus vaccines even if the Food and Drug Administration approves one or more for distribution and public use.

Why it matters: The motion could sow further public doubt that the federal government could release a vaccine based on political motives rather than safety and efficacy.

  • “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 news briefing.

The big picture: New York officials do not generally play a part in approving drugs or vaccines, the New York Times notes.

The state of play: Health officials spent Wednesday on Capitol Hill reassuring lawmakers that the vaccine approval process will be based on safety and efficacy, not politics.

  • The FDA also released guidance this week, noting it would be more rigorous in its vaccine emergency authorization process than it was for hydroxychloroquine or convalescent plasma.
  • Reports indicated that the White House "may or may not" approve this FDA guidance, which Cuomo cited as another concern.

Go deeper

Jan 27, 2021 - Health

OIG: HHS misused millions of dollars intended for public health threats

Vaccine vials. Photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel alerted the White House and Congress on Wednesday of an investigation that found the Department of Health and Human Services misused millions of dollars that were budgeted for vaccine research and public health emergencies for Ebola, Zika and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: The more than 200-page investigation corroborated claims from a whistleblower, showing the agency's violation of the Purpose Statute spanned both the Obama and Trump administrations and paid for unrelated projects like salaries, news subscriptions and the removal of office furniture.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Jan 27, 2021 - Health

Coronavirus variants demand a tougher response

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New, more contagious coronavirus variants threaten the U.S. response to COVID-19 just as the best tools to fight it are becoming available.

Why it matters: As our response to COVID-19 evolves and improves with the introduction of vaccines, so does SARS-CoV-2 itself, with new variants emerging. The next few months will demand harsher measures to control the pandemic at the very moment when exhaustion is peaking.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

HRW: Over 100 former Afghan security members dead or missing under Taliban rule

Members of the Taliban movement patrol Kabul's airport in September. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

The Taliban have "killed or forcibly disappeared" over 100 former members of Afghanistan's security forces since the group took power in August, a Human Rights Watch report published Tuesday found.

Why it matters: Former military members and officials from the ousted government, activists and other Taliban critics are facing peril amid executions driven by revenge — despite Taliban promises of an "amnesty" with no retributions, notes the New York Times, which first reported the news.