Representatives Malinowski, Krishnamoorthi, Jayapal, and Senators Merkley and Warren Lead 70 Colleagues in Push for Increased Funding for Global Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine

July 23, 2021
Press Release

(Washington, DC) Today, Representatives Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), and Senators Merkley (OR) and Warren (MA) led 70 colleagues in urging Congressional Leadership to include additional funding in the reconciliation package for the production and global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. In a bicameral letter, the lawmakers argue that this investment will save lives and reinforce America’s leadership in combatting the pandemic worldwide.

“No investment in the fight against COVID-19 is more urgent and cost-effective now than an investment in getting the world vaccinated as quickly as possible,” wrote the lawmakers. “Even assuming wealthy countries will be fully vaccinated by mid-2021, the global economic cost of not vaccinating lower-income countries is estimated to be $9 trillion per year, or nearly ten percent of global GDP. $34 billion is a small price to pay to help return the U.S. and global economy to normalcy, and we request that such an amount is included in the upcoming spending package.”

Signatories include Representatives McGovern (MA-02), Deutch (FL-22), Cleaver II (MO-05), Keating (MA-09), Manning (NC-06), Costa (CA-16), Lieu (CA-33), Cicilline (RI-01), Andy Levin (MI-09), Vincente Gonzalez (TX-15), Khanna (CA-17), Phillips (MN-03), Bowman (NY-16), Holmes Norton (DC), Grijalva (AZ-03), Ross (NC-02), Hayes (CT-05), Scanlon (PA-05), Allred (TX-32), Titus (NV-01), Auchincloss (MA-04), Pocan (WI-02), Torres (NY-15), Tlaib (MI-13), Doggett (TX-35), Rush (IL-01), DeFazio (OR-4), Nadler (NY-10), Kilmer (WA-06), Sires (NJ-08), Bass (CA-37), Payne Jr. (NJ-10), Porter (CA-45), Raskin (MD-8), Danny Davis (IL-07), Garamendi (CA-03), Courtney (CT-02), Andy Kim (NJ-03), Kaptur (OH-09), Carson (IN-07), Cohen (TN-09), Castro (TX-20), Foster (IL-11), Bonamici (OR-01), Strickland (WA-10), Pressley (MA-07), Blumenauer (OR-03), Stansbury (NM-01), Chuy Garcia (IL-04), Suozzi (NY-03), Brown (MD-04), Espaillat (NY-13), Butterfield (NC-01), Evans (PA-03), Troy Carter (LA-02), Sara Jacobs (CA-53), Jackson Lee (TX-18), Kind (WI-03), Lamb (PA-17), Horsford (NV-04), Newman (IL-03), Moulton (MA-06), Meng (NY-06), and Senator Markey (MA).                                                       

Read the text of the letter here and below.

Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Schumer:

We write to ask that the budget reconciliation bill provide up to $34 billion in funding to significantly accelerate the production of COVID-19 vaccines for global distribution, both to save lives and to reinforce America’s leadership in combatting the pandemic worldwide. We applaud President Biden’s recent announcement that the U.S. government will purchase and donate to lower income countries 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, as well as its financial contributions to COVAX, made possible by the American Rescue Plan. These steps have been extraordinarily generous and consistent with our national interest, because if the pandemic continues to rage in other countries, variants could emerge that defeat existing vaccines.

However, the magnitude of the problem—only 1% of people in low-income countries vaccinated and over 6 billion worldwide who have yet to receive a dose—necessitates an even greater commitment from the United States to provide vaccines and secure end-to-end delivery at a global scale. Even if we set a relatively modest goal of vaccinating 60 percent of the population in the 92 lower-income countries eligible for assistance from COVAX, billions more doses will be needed. To this end, we respectfully request that whatever is needed on top of unspent COVID-19 relief funds to get to $34 billion be set aside in the upcoming economic development and jobs package to reach such a goal.

Part of the answer will be stepped up production of COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries. More must be done to make this possible, and the Biden administration is working with partners around the world to address the complicated challenges involved. Meanwhile, the most practical step the United States can take is to do our part in mass producing the vaccines our companies helped develop and enabling the most rapid and equitable distribution of those vaccines to the countries in greatest need. This vision is specifically outlined in the broadly supported Nullifying Opportunities for Variants to Infect & Decimate (NOVID) Act (H.R. 3778/S.1976), which details a plan for achieving these goals through a comprehensive production and distribution strategy.

The United States accounts for almost 25 percent of the global economy, and we control an even larger share of the manufacturing capacity for the uniquely effective vaccines that our companies have patented. As such, the 500 million doses we have already promised represent less than our fair share of the billions of doses needed to meet this global challenge. Recent COVID-19 outbreaks in countries that relied on Chinese vaccines reinforce how dependent lower income countries will be on American assistance to defeat COVID-19. In rising to this challenge, we can show once again that in moments of great need, America does great things.

Estimates indicate that it will cost up to $25 billion to create enough vaccine manufacturing capacity around the world to vaccinate 60% of the populations in the COVAX countries, plus another $8.5 billion to ensure end-to-end delivery of the vaccines. We therefore urge Congress to provide whatever funds are needed in the reconciliation bill, in addition to any unspent ARP funds that may exist, to achieve this goal.

No investment in the fight against COVID-19 is more urgent and cost-effective now than an investment in getting the world vaccinated as quickly as possible. Even assuming wealthy countries will be fully vaccinated by mid-2021, the global economic cost of not vaccinating lower-income countries is estimated to be $9 trillion per year, or nearly ten percent of global GDP. $34 billion is a small price to pay to help return the U.S. and global economy to normalcy, and we request that such an amount is included in the upcoming spending package. 

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Respectfully,

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