April 23, 2021

Cardin, Bennet Push Biden Administration for Details on Global Vaccination Efforts

Senators Urge Administration to Reassert United States’ Role as Leader in Global Health By Distributing Excess COVID-19 Vaccines Abroad

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) today urged the Biden Administration to outline its plans to distribute Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines to the global community. As the United States is on track to experience a significant surplus of COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of the summer, the senators urged the administration to bolster global vaccine distribution efforts and reassert the United States as a leader in global health. 

“Under the previous administration, the United States chose to abdicate its global leadership on international efforts to promote human health. Russia and China mounted vaccine diplomacy efforts to advance their own geopolitical interests,” wrote the senators. “It is critical that the United States recapture our historic and leading role in global health and distribute excess COVID-19 vaccines abroad until there is global herd immunity.”

In the letter to Gayle E. Smith, the Coordinator for Global COVID-19 Response and Health Security, Cardin and Bennet outlined several questions for the administration to address: 

  • Will you plan on using existing authorities, including those under the Defense Production Act, to increase the supply of COVID-19 vaccines for the global community?
  • In addition to announced financial support of COVAX, how will the administration engage with the global community, such as through bilateral efforts or COVAX, to support and accelerate the global distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccines?
  • What other actions does the administration plan to take to increase global access to vaccines?

“While vaccinating as many Americans as quickly and equitably as possible is a top priority, the U.S. must consider its role in helping others around the world receive the COVID-19 vaccine. We ask you to respond as soon as possible with how you plan to engage globally and support our international partners with COVID-19 vaccination efforts,” they concluded.

The text of the letter is available HERE and below.

Dear Ms. Smith: 

As our nation begins to approach herd immunity and emerge from the pandemic, we respectfully request that the Administration provide us with its plans to distribute Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines to the global community.

Following the administration’s announcement in February, we expect Pfizer, Inc. and Moderna, Inc. to deliver more than enough doses of COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate the entire United States adult population by the summer.[1] Barring any changes to its’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization, we expect Johnson & Johnson to deliver additional doses of their one-shot vaccine that would further increase the U.S. supply of COVID-19 vaccines. By the end of the summer, we will most likely experience a significant surplus of COVID-19 vaccine doses in the U.S.

Under the previous administration, the United States chose to abdicate its global leadership on international efforts to promote human health. Russia and China mounted vaccine diplomacy efforts to advance their own geopolitical interests. It is critical that the United States recapture our historic and leading role in global health and distribute excess COVID-19 vaccines abroad until there is global herd immunity.                                     

Given the robust pipeline of vaccines produced in the United States, the federal government has an opportunity to bolster global vaccine distribution efforts, regain international confidence in U.S. global health leadership, and equitably protect billions of people from COVID-19. Furthermore, by distributing vaccines around the world, particularly to low- and middle-income countries, the U.S. would help curb the pandemic and help mitigate the pandemic’s devastating effects on the global economy. This includes continued and increased support for the World Health Organization’s Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator’s COVAX pillar which aims to provide global, innovative and equitable, access to COVID-19 vaccines.

In light of the global need, we ask that you respond to the following questions or provide our staff with a briefing to cover the following:

  • Will you plan on using existing authorities, including those under the Defense Production Act, to increase the supply of COVID-19 vaccines for the global community?
  • In addition to announced financial support of COVAX, how will the administration engage with the global community, such as through bilateral efforts or COVAX, to support and accelerate the global distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccines?
  • What other actions does the administration plan to take to increase global access to vaccines?

While vaccinating as many Americans as quickly and equitably as possible is a top priority, the U.S. must consider its role in helping others around the world receive the COVID-19 vaccine. We ask you to respond as soon as possible with how you plan to engage globally and support our international partners with COVID-19 vaccination efforts.


[1] https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2021/02/11/biden-administration-purchases-additional-doses-covid-19-vaccines-from-pfizer-and-moderna.html

 

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