New York’s Democratic governor has announced the state will carry out its own review of any Covid-19 vaccines authorised by the US federal government because of concerns the approval process may be politicised.
"Frankly, I’m not going to trust the federal government’s opinion," Andrew Cuomo said, suggesting he feared that Donald Trump would fast-track a vaccine in order to boost his chances of re-election in November.
"President Trump is engaged in the political process and has an Election Day," Mr Cuomo said, adding that New York’s health department would assemble a panel of experts to review any approved vaccines "so I can look at the camera and I can say to New Yorkers that it’s safe to take."
The issue of a potential vaccine has become a focal point of the 2020 race, with prominent Democrats suggesting Mr Trump is exerting political pressure on the approval process to help him recover from criticism of his handling of the pandemic.
The US president launched "Operation Warp Speed" earlier this year, to fast-track the development and manufacturing process for potential vaccines.
However Mr Trump has appeared to link the date for a vaccine roll-out to the presidential election, as well as attacking the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the regulatory body for vaccines, leading some to voice concerns over the agency’s independence.
This is very troubling: Trump indicates he might reject FDA's plan to build transparency and diligence into its vaccine approval process. pic.twitter.com/1Unb32GHG2— Dr. Ali Nouri (@AliNouriPhD) September 24, 2020
Modelling from the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE), suggested the country’s death toll from the virus could almost double in the next few months, reaching 371,509 by January 1.
Meanwhile, the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, announced he and his wife have tested positive for Covid-19, just hours before Mr Trump was due to hold a packed rally, which local health officials have already branded a "severe public health threat", in the state.