House Democrats call on Biden to do ‘much more’ to vaccinate the world
More than 40 House Democrats on Friday wrote to President Biden calling for him to do “much more” to vaccinate the world against COVID-19.
The lawmakers praised this step, but said it is insufficient.
In the letter sent to Biden, the members of the House of Representatives pushed the president to take “aggressive and immediate steps” to address worldwide vaccine shortages.
“We urge you to pursue additional steps to advance a bold, comprehensive strategy to vaccinate the world as quickly as possible,” the letter reads.
In addition to sharing doses that have already been made, the lawmakers said it is crucial to increase the supply of vaccines by providing more funding for manufacturing and to share the know-how for making the vaccines so that other countries can make them.
The lawmakers, led by Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), praised Biden for supporting a waiver for vaccine patents at the World Trade Organization and announcing a plan to donate the 80 million doses.
They call for $25 billion in funding through the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to oversee the production of 8 billion doses of vaccine, and ask for an “immediate accounting” of the $16 billion remaining in American Rescue Plan funds for vaccine development.
They also press the administration to “use all available tools of U.S. influence, persuasion, diplomacy and legal authorities to facilitate the rapid and widespread transfer of technology and expansion of vaccine production.”
The White House acknowledged Thursday that simply donating doses is far from enough to vaccinate the world, and said the donations are just one part of a larger strategy.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan said there will be additional announcements during next week’s Group of Seven meeting.
“We also know that this won’t be enough to end or reduce the lifespan of the pandemic, and that’s why we’re working with allies and partners to expand the production of vaccines and raw materials, including here at home … and by building capacity around the world,” Sullivan said on Thursday.
The lawmakers are also calling for the “immediate” release of the promised 80 million doses of vaccine. The White House has said the 60 million AstraZeneca doses are still undergoing safety review from the Food and Drug Administration given their link to a troubled manufacturing facility. The Democrats also call for convening a “global vaccine summit.”
“From a public health perspective, if we are to defeat the virus, we cannot allow the continued surges globally because the virus knows no geographic boundaries and the public health of Americans is at risk,” the lawmakers wrote.
The progressive advocacy group Public Citizen on Thursday also issued a call for the administration to do more to boost vaccine manufacturing, not just donate doses already made.
“The White House should quickly specify ambitious global production targets and help lead the international community in support of vaccine manufacturing,” said Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program.
Updated at noon Friday
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