WASHINGTON — Thirty members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus called on the Biden administration today to fulfill the President’s commitment of international cooperation and global leadership by increasing its efforts to bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide and reduce global inequities in public health resources.
In a letter to the President and COVID-19 Rapid Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients, the members write: “As new data emerges about the quickly spreading Omicron variant, we know that the longer the global pandemic is allowed to run rampant, new, more virulent variants will continue to threaten health and economic wellbeing across the planet.” The lawmakers warn that the COVID-19 pandemic, which has produced nearly 5.5 million deaths globally “will continue ravaging the globe if inequity and apathy prevail,” while the “harm to U.S. public health and the economy if vaccine-resistant variants are allowed to evolve are almost unfathomable.”
The data on the impact of such inequity is staggering: “Only 7.1 percent of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose, and vaccine supply remains a major problem. With limited technology sharing, low-income countries have depended on inconsistent vaccine donations, which have run behind projections. COVAX, the multilateral platform for distributing vaccines to developing nations, has managed to ship just 544 million doses so far, roughly a third of what it had planned to have sent by now.”
The lawmakers identify several actions the Biden administration should immediately take:
- Redouble efforts to pass the Build Back Better Act and restore its full allocation of $8 billion for pandemic preparedness including $2 billion dedicated to global vaccine manufacturing;
- Call for $17 billion in additional funds to ensure a global 70 percent vaccination rate by mid-2022 in Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations;
- Redouble diplomatic efforts to share vaccine technology and intellectual property, including encouraging the World Trade Organization to finally issue a waiver for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS);
- Produce billions of mRNA vaccine doses, retaining public control over intellectual property and production to ensure new vaccine capacity serves public interests, rather than subsidizing pharmaceutical corporations;
- Proactively support global vaccine manufacturing efforts, including compelling resistant pharmaceutical companies to engage in technology transfer by invoking the Defense Production Act and other legal tools; and,
- Support new global emergency financing to protect low-income countries through the International Monetary Fund, specifically via a new issuance of 1.5 trillion Special Drawing Rights
The lawmakers conclude that “if the administration takes decisive action” on these proposed courses of action, its “goal of vaccinating the world will be realized in short order.”
Signatories on the letter include: Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Karen Bass (CA-37), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D.(NY-16), Cori Bush (MO-01), Andre Carson (IN-07), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Peter A. DeFazio (OR-04), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Teresa Leger Fernandez (NM-03), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Grace Meng (NY-06), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Marie Newman (IL-03), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Mark Takano (CA-41), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Ritchie Torres (NY-15), Nydia Velazquez (NY-07), and Peter Welch (VT).
The letter can be found here.
Letter to Biden Administration on Global Vaccine Action -
House Democrats call on the Biden administration today to increase its efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide and address global inequities in public health resources.