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Senator Markey joins Senator Smith in urging President Biden to increase global vaccine production for low- and middle-income countries


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Ahead of next COVID-19 global vaccine summit, senator says U.S. leadership is needed to immunize the world’s population and end pandemic

WASHINGTON (September 17, 2021) – U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) Joined with Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) In calling on President Joe Biden to expand global production and delivery of vaccines in the United States and middle-income countries.

Ahead of the upcoming international summit on global access to the COVID-19 vaccine, Senator Smith urged the Biden administration to make firm commitments to expand global access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Senator Smith has said that without US leadership in this area, we will not be able to immunize the world’s population and end the COVID-19 pandemic.

“According to experts, 11 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine are needed to immunize 70% of the world’s population and dramatically reduce the spread of the virus. So far, 5.82 billion doses have been administered worldwide, but less than 2% of the population living in low-income countries have received even a single dose. Obviously, there is an inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccine doses, and it is getting worse ”, wrote Senator Smith and colleagues. “Despite promises and pledges from some rich countries to donate nearly a billion doses to the global effort, only 15% of those donations were actually distributed. Last week, COVAX announced that its 2021 forecast of COVID-19 doses available for distribution would be reduced by a quarter, from 1.9 billion to 1.4 billion. The United States can and must improve access to the COVID-19 vaccine for low- and middle-income countries and lift the entire world out of the COVID-19 pandemic. “

Senator Smith’s letter was signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Jeffrey Merkley (D-Ore.). It was also signed by representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-8) and Mark Pocan (D-WI-2).

You can read a copy of the letter here or below.

September 16, 2021

President Joseph R. Biden

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Biden:

Thank you for your leadership in strengthening the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic and your call to convene an international summit on global access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Ahead of this important convocation, we are writing to urge you to take further action and make firm commitments to accelerate the manufacture and delivery of vaccines globally. Without additional American leadership in this area, we will not be able to immunize the world’s population and end the COVID-19 pandemic.

We appreciate your promise that the United States will serve as the “vaccine arsenal” for the world, including your leadership in purchasing and donating nearly 600 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access ( COVAX), more than any other. other country of the world.[1]

We also welcome the recent announcement to invest $ 2.7 billion in vaccine manufacturing, the Quad Vaccine partnership and its support for the local production of COVID-19 vaccines around the world, as well as your commitment to work with global partners to end the pandemic by 2022.[2],[3], [4]

Additionally, we are grateful for your leadership in joining and securing additional funding for COVAX earlier this year.

Despite these important actions, more is needed to expand access and global production of COVID-19 vaccines and position the United States as the vaccine arsenal for the world. Experts say 11 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are needed to immunize 70% of the world’s population and dramatically reduce the spread of the virus.[5]

So far, 5.82 billion doses have been administered worldwide, but less than 2% of the population living in low-income countries have received even a single dose.[6]

Clearly, there is an inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccine doses, and it is getting worse. Despite promises and commitments from some rich countries to donate nearly a billion doses to the global effort, only 15% of those donations were actually distributed.[7] Last week, COVAX announced that its 2021 forecast for COVID-19 doses available for distribution would be reduced by a quarter, from 1.9 billion to 1.4 billion.[8] The United States can and must improve access to the COVID-19 vaccine for low- and middle-income countries and lift the entire world out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are several reasons why the United States should lead the global manufacture and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The United States is uniquely positioned to address the humanitarian and moral problem of low- and middle-income countries without access to effective COVID-19 vaccines, resulting in spikes in COVID cases and deaths -19, causes global inequalities and prolongs the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic will not end anywhere, including here in the United States, until it ends everywhere. Without a dramatic increase in vaccinations globally, more communicable and threatening variants will continue to emerge and impact Americans.

In addition, increasing the availability of vaccines around the world will help ensure that all Americans living abroad have access to vaccines. The United States Department of State does not provide health care services to Americans abroad. Therefore, US citizens must either obtain vaccines through their host country or return to the United States where vaccines are no longer available.

Beyond the immediate implications for public health, the US economy could lose up to $ 4.5 trillion due to the lack of global economic output if this pandemic continues.[9]

Additionally, recent polls indicate that more than two-thirds of Americans support U.S. investments in the global manufacture and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.[10]

By taking meaningful additional steps to promote immunizations around the world, we will not only help end this pandemic, but we will continue to strengthen the global leadership of the United States.

For these reasons, we urge your administration to announce a whole-of-government strategy and a detailed plan to expand global access to the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the next COVID-19 Global Summit.[11] This plan should provide clear answers to the following questions:

What is the total number and delivery status of all COVID-19 doses that have been donated by the United States and other countries via COVAX or directly to other countries in need of vaccines, and what is the schedule for which all of these doses will be delivered?

· How will the United States and global partners ensure that vaccines get to the countries that need them most, and what factors will be used to inform those decisions?

What additional funding will the United States and global partners invest to strengthen manufacturing infrastructure, source raw materials, and provide technical assistance to rapidly produce billions of doses of additional COVID-19 vaccine? Specifically, what investments are needed to ensure that we meet the global immunization targets of 40% coverage by the end of 2021 and 60% by mid-2022?[12]

How many regional COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing centers and filling finishing facilities will the United States and global partners commit to developing to meet global COVID-19 vaccine needs?

What steps will the United States and global partners take, including addressing international travel restrictions and transferring technical knowledge, to develop and deploy the skilled workforce needed to rapidly manufacture COVID vaccines -19?

· How many additional doses will the United States and global partners commit to donate to support immunization around the world?

How much funding, technical assistance and on-the-ground assistance will the United States and global partners invest in the global delivery of COVID-19 vaccines and to help other countries implement programs vaccination programs against COVID-19?

Will the United States and global partners commit to providing more transparency, including working with vaccine manufacturers, in the global COVID-19 supply chain so that the public better understands the bottlenecks? strangulation and other factors that may slow the global COVID-19 vaccine access?

Will the United States and global partners fund research to help expand access to the COVID-19 vaccine, including exploring whether splitting COVID-19 vaccine doses can safely and effectively increase supply , the impact of extending expiration dates on vaccine efficacy and how to improve the thermal stability of mRNA vaccines so that they do not need to adhere to stringent vaccine storage requirements. cold chain ?

What amount of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and the previously passed COVID-19 relief bills that the United States has used to accelerate the manufacture, donation and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines around the world, and what funding available has yet to be committed for global access to the COVID-19 vaccine? How much more money does the United States government need for this purpose?

Thank you again for your leadership in strengthening the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. By taking additional steps to mobilize resources and work closely with our global partners, the United States can resolve this complex technical and logistical challenge and pull the world out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Truly,

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