A week after Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced that a panel of experts from his state would independently review any federally approved coronavirus vaccines before they were administered to residents, the governors of Washington, Oregon and Nevada announced they’d join California’s effort.
The move comes as leaders across the country face a vaccine-development process that many have said they fear is becoming overly politicized.
“We believe in science, public health and safety,” Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington said in a statement. “That is why I am pleased that Washington is joining California and other western states in this effort.”
In September, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York announced that his state would independently review any vaccines, saying President Trump had politicized the approval process.
“Frankly, I’m not going to trust the federal government’s opinion,” Mr. Cuomo said at the time.
But in a news briefing on Tuesday, Mr. Newsom emphasized that the extra review was meant to reinforce federal findings and to ensure that the Western states have planned in detail who should be able to receive what are expected to be very limited early doses. It would not, he said, stall or add an additional layer of politics to the process.
“It will not cause delays,” Mr. Newsom said. “It’s going to increase transparency and trust.”
About two-thirds of Californians surveyed in a recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California said they were concerned about the development of a vaccine moving too quickly.
California’s health secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly, added that the review would not involve continuing or duplicating any vaccine trials. Rather, the panel will look at data and other information, “a lot of which is publicly reported, through the eyes of experts,” he said.
The review will allow the states to plan for a complex distribution process in detail and with equity in mind.
“The independent review conducted by this panel of doctors, scientists, and health experts will ensure that a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine is available to everyone, especially communities that have been disproportionately impacted by this disease,” Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, said in a statement.
This isn’t the first time the governors have collaborated across state lines but outside the purview of the federal government. In April, as many states held back on implementing pandemic-related restrictions, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Colorado formed a so-called Western States Pact.
Mr. Newsom said the group was largely a way of sharing best practices, rather than a formal agreement to act in concert.
Governors have been also outspoken lately about how they think the distribution of vaccines should be handled. Earlier this month Mr. Cuomo, as head of the bipartisan National Governors Association, posed additional questions about how the Trump administration will ensure that states are able to get and distribute vaccines.