07.28.22

Senator Murray Statement on Emergency COVID Funding Bill

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS), introduced a $21 billion emergency COVID funding bill alongside Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Chairman Christopher Coons (D-DE). The supplemental funding bill would provide the resources needed to prepare for the next phase of the pandemic, ensuring communities across the country have the tests, treatments, and next-generation vaccines they need ahead of a potential fall surge—and bolstering the global fight against COVID as new variants threaten the progress we’ve made against the virus. It would also equip the U.S. with the resources needed to fight other emerging diseases that threaten people’s health and risk further disruption.

 

“It is so painfully clear that our nation, and our families, cannot afford for us to fall behind when it comes to fighting this pandemic. We have to make the investments needed to keep us ready, and keep us ahead of the challenges, surges, and variants we know are coming,” said Senator Murray. “This emergency funding will do just that by helping us get our communities more tests, treatments, and vaccines to fight this virus—and better ones that are more effective against new variants, easier to use, store, transport, and more. It will also support the global COVID response so our partners across the world can beat this virus abroad and keep it from spreading, mutating, and threatening families here at home. I have been making clear how important this is for months: our communities need this funding now—so let’s get it done.”

 

The bill provides $16 billion in emergency funding through the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF), including:

  • $9 billion to the Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority for advanced research and development, manufacturing, production, purchase, and distribution of medical countermeasures against COVID-19 including vaccines, therapeutics, tests, diagnostics, and medical products and supplies;
  • $6.25 billion in flexible funding to allow the Department of Health and Human Services to purchase and distribute vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to ensure a sufficient supply to meet demand if and when a new variant or surge of infections emerges; and
  • $750 million for research and clinical trials for vaccines focused on emerging coronavirus strains and to support domestic manufacturing capacity.

 

For months, scientists, medical professionals, and global health experts have been sounding the alarm that without additional funding the United States will be woefully unprepared for an anticipated surge in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and potential death this fall and winter. Some projections estimate that as many as 100 million Americans – nearly 1 in 3 – will be infected or re-infected in the coming months.

 

Current vaccine supplies only provide enough doses for 100 million Americans in the fall. The Administration lacks sufficient funding to support the development and purchase of next-generation vaccines, which have the potential to offer broader protection against new and emerging variants and ultimately replace the need to develop new vaccines. Supplies of monoclonal antibody treatments are expected to be exhausted within a month, and testing supplies have dwindled to little more than 300 million tests – far below the anticipated need of 1 billion to meet demand as children return to school in the fall.

 

Insufficient vaccination efforts abroad will only encourage new variants to emerge and pose new threats to us here at home. The U.S. Agency for International Development, will soon have no choice but to shut down global vaccine delivery operations due to insufficient funding. This would be a disastrous outcome as only 19 percent of people in low-income countries have received a single COVID-19 vaccine dose. Inequities between lower and higher-income countries continue to cost lives and prolong the pandemic by increasing the threat posed by the emergence of new, potentially more dangerous, variants of the virus.

 

The emergency funding provided in the bill will allow the Administration to procure the necessary tests, treatments and vaccines for the anticipated fall surge; further develop and purchase the next generation of vaccines and treatments; and support a global response to the pandemic that will keep us safer here at home.

 

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