Gov. Cox defends Utah’s COVID-19 vaccination response on CNN

The governor argued that states need more insight into the vaccine manufacturing process.

(Screenshot from CNN) Governor Spencer Cox, right, appeared on Chris Cuomo Primetime on CNN Thursday, Jan. 22, 2021 to discuss Utah's COVID-19 vaccine backlog.

Gov. Spencer Cox appeared on Chris Cuomo’s CNN show, Cuomo Prime Time, on Friday night to explain why Utah has a backlog of more than 32,000 COVID-19 vaccinations that have sat unused for more than a week.

Cuomo opened the segment by saying that the state had received 226,725 doses so far, but about 14% were older than seven days. He asked the governor about the “wasted” vaccines and whether his administration had its “act together.”

“I don’t think any vaccines have been wasted,” Cox said. “On day one, as governor, I said, ‘We will use every dose of vaccine within seven days, and if you’re not using those doses within seven days, then you shouldn’t have the vaccine or you have too much of it.’”

He continued that the first week after making that decision, the state administered more than 60,000 doses (a total of just over 47,000 vaccines had been used before Cox took office on Jan. 4, Utah Department of Health data show).

The governor said that all vaccine in the state’s control more than a week old has been administered.

“That Walgreens and CVS partnership with the federal government, that’s where all the backlog is in virtually every state right now,” including in Utah, Cox said.

[Read more: Utah declines to disclose when vaccines arrive or who gets them, while pharmacies dispute doses are ‘sitting on shelves’]

Cox explained that the federal government sent “too much vaccine” to the pharmacies to use in long-term care facilities, but the state health department is working to recover those doses.

“It will be gone next week,” Cox said.

Asked what three things the governor needs to increase the number of people who can get inoculated, Cox said that there was only one — “we need to get more vaccine.”

Governors also need more insight into the vaccine manufacturing process, the governor continued, so they can better plan when and how to administer first and second doses.

When Cuomo asked whether the governor would like direct access to doses from the manufacturers, Cox responded that such a move “would be a huge mistake.”

“Any governor that says otherwise is wrong and they know it,” Cox said. " This shouldn’t be the hunger games like it was with [personal protective equipment], that was ridiculous.”

Watch the full segment below.

Correction: Jan. 23, 10:20 a.m. >> This story was updated to correct the name of Chris Cuomo’s CNN show.