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Friday, June 11th, 2021

More than 40 U.S. representatives call for federal action to guarantee equitable vaccine distribution worldwide

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In a letter to President Joe Biden last week, more than 40 U.S. representatives sought to use the impending G7 Summit as an opportunity to call for five quick, immediate actions to guarantee COVID-19 vaccines were administered worldwide. 

The group, led by U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), called for Biden to: 

  • Guarantee immediate release of 80 million doses of vaccines, allocating committed doses based on where surging numbers are greatest and reassessing the U.S. stockpile of vaccines to release even more immediately to other nations.
  • Invest another $25 billion to authorize the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to manage the production of 8 billion mRNA vaccine doses — an estimate to cover approximately half the world. This request included looking into the deployment of the remaining $16 million in American Rescue Plan funds allocated for COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Use every available means to rapidly transfer technology and expand vaccine production.
  • Support issuing a new, cost-free International Monetary Fund reserve asset known as Special Drawing Rights to strengthen public-health budgets and aid low-income countries with the resources to import medical supplies and push vaccination campaigns. 
  • Assemble a global vaccine summit to encourage cooperation and open coordination in the research, development, production, and distribution of vaccines.

“We urge you to pursue additional steps to advance a bold, comprehensive strategy to vaccinate the world as quickly as possible,” the lawmakers said. “It is imperative that the United States act quickly and deploy every tool in our arsenal. Now is the time to build international cooperation and solidarity in ways we have never seen before, including using the full force of United States diplomacy, economic and commercial leadership, legal authorities, and membership in multilateral institutions. The fate of our own health and safety in the United States is inextricably connected to the wellbeing and protection of the most vulnerable among us worldwide.”

Currently, the representatives noted, wealthy countries have administered more than 80 percent of global vaccines. Low-income countries have received less than 1 percent of those vaccines. However, so long as the COVID-19 surges anywhere, it endangers people everywhere — and the lawmakers warned of the dire humanitarian and economic implications of an unnecessarily prolonged global pandemic. 

In addition to the representatives, the letter was endorsed by various organizations, including Action Corps, Be A Hero, Health GAP, Just Foreign Policy, Justice is Global, Oxfam America, People’s Action, PIH, PrEP4All, Public Citizen, and R2H Action.