Distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States could be imperiled by President Donald Trump’s decision to fight a transition to the incoming administration under Joe Biden, a new report from U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) warned this week.
Peters, ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, warned that an extended delay in the process coil undermine the federal government’s overall pandemic response and wipe out any progress made on developing and distributing vaccines. While Biden officials need information to prepare for efforts to be taken under their watch, that information is being denied, and transparency is losing out along the way.
“We’ve seen promising news about developing Coronavirus vaccines, but there are still numerous steps the federal government should be taking now to ensure that, once vaccines are authorized, we can quickly and effectively get them to our communities,” Peters said. “As my recent report found, the Trump Administration should be taking aggressive action to promote transparency and trust in eventual vaccines, but their political interference with scientific and public health agencies has only eroded the public’s trust.”
In his report, Peters recommended the Trump administration immediately commit to transparency on all vaccine development, approval, and distribution processes. He also pressed the administration to guarantee equitable vaccine distribution in every community, coupled with a detailed plan from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how best to address racial disparities in vaccine distribution. Communities of color face double the risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19 than white communities, the report found.
Additionally, Peters called for quick investments in critical supplies and long-term investments in domestic advanced manufacturing of these supplies.
These, he argued, would go a long way to rebuilding public trust and guaranteeing safe vaccines that are widely available. Previously, Peters has also called for an independent investigation into political interference charges at U.S. public health agencies.