REP LIEU JOINS BIPARTISAN LETTER URGING ADMINISTRATION TO DONATE UNUSED VACCINES AROUND THE GLOBE
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) signed a bipartisan letter led by Congresswoman Susan Wild (D-PA) urging the Biden Administration to donate unused COVID-19 vaccine doses to developing countries. In the letter, the Members argue that providing vaccines to developing countries both ensures supplies are not wasted and helps the world move closer to ending the pandemic.
In the letter, the Members write:
Dear President Biden:
We write to you regarding the urgent need to increase the global COVID-19 vaccine supply and distribution efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic continues to spread unabated in developing nations, particularly where vaccination rates are dismally low due to lack of supply. As vaccination rates rise in the U.S., and supply begins to outpace demand, the U.S has a critical opportunity to support partners and allies around the world, advance U.S. global leadership, and accelerate excess vaccine donations.
Unfortunately, surging variants of COVID-19 continue to demonstrate that U.S. health security is inextricably linked to global health detection and control capacities of countries around the world. The U.S. cannot end the COVID-19 pandemic here at home if we do not address the surging COVID-19 pandemic, and its deadly variants, around the world. Until then, more preventable deaths will occur, along with more economic devastation—including in our own country.
We support the continued efforts to combat the pandemic around the world, including previous commitments made to donate vaccines, bolster critical supply chains, and prioritize global health security. Thanks to American ingenuity, U.S.-manufactured vaccines are the key to safely and effectively ending this pandemic. Unfortunately, foreign adversaries are exploiting this pandemic and leveraging their substandard vaccine donations for political influence and concessions. Vaccine diplomacy is a critical and pressing foreign policy challenge.
However, the speed at which critical donations are being provided, and appropriated funds are being transparently allocated, is neither matching the desperate urgency of this deadly pandemic nor fulfilling the previous commitments that have been made. Around 58% of people around the world have yet to receive a single shot. At the current rates of projection, vaccination, and donation, we believe the US will have a substantial number of unused doses at the end of the year, many of which are at risk of expiring. The U.S. must rapidly work to ensure our surplus vaccines do not go to waste. Providing our allies and partners with additional vaccine doses is not only the right and moral thing to do but is also in our strategic national interest.
In order to meet this challenge at scale and while we still have time, we request that you swiftly implement a process for redirecting unused vaccines to meet global demands and urgently support efforts to ramp up vaccine production capabilities. We ask that you press our allies and partners with large quantities of unused vaccines to commit to a similar process. The U.S. should also prioritize efforts to address logistical and messaging challenges in the delivery, distribution, and administration of vaccines. Doing so will be critical to combating misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine and ensuring that key populations—including in remote and underserved areas—will have access to the vaccine.
As the United States works to develop a robust booster shot regiment, we hope the administration will strike a balance that will meet the needs of the American people while ensuring our allies also have access to live saving vaccines. The longer we wait to help vaccinate the world, the longer the COVID-19 pandemic will continue. The time to commit to donating these doses is now. Lives depend on it. Thank you for your attention to this urgent issue.