New COVID package passed by Senate includes $22.4 billion in new testing funds
Package would provide $8.75 billion for distribution of vaccines, and $23 billion for development and procurement of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and medical supplies
Package designates dollars for high-risk and underserved populations, including communities of color and rural communities
Senator Murray: “This funding for COVID-19 testing and vaccines is long overdue, but our work to protect families and communities from this pandemic is far from over. I’ve been sounding the alarm on these issues since the early days of this crisis, and I’m not going to stop until we are safely through it.
(Washington, D.C.) – Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement on funding for COVID-19 testing and vaccine procurement, distribution, and administration included in the COVID response package which passed the Senate yesterday.
“This funding for COVID-19 testing and vaccines is long overdue, but our work to protect families and communities from this pandemic is far from over. I’ve been sounding the alarm on these issues since the early days of this crisis, and I’m not going to stop until we are safely through it.
“While the authorization of the first two COVID-19 vaccines is a critical scientific breakthrough, for it to be a lifesaver as well we need to go from vaccines on shelves to vaccines in arms. I’ve been pressing for months for adequate funding and a national comprehensive plan to make sure vaccines are quickly and equitably distributed at no cost to patients and to promote vaccine confidence. The task ahead is enormous and I won’t be letting up until it is complete.
“In the meantime, testing and contact tracing continue to be among the most important tools we have to slow the spread of this virus, especially while doses of vaccine are still limited. As I have said before, testing should be fast, free, accurate, and everywhere so that people can get the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe through the duration of this crisis.
“Once we get this package signed into law and finally provide some of the funding needed to tackle these challenges, Congress must get right back to work on further relief. I look forward to working with the incoming Biden Administration to give our communities the support and leadership they need, and to rebuild a stronger, fairer country as we emerge from this crisis.”
The COVID package that passed the Senate today included $22.4 billion for testing, contact tracing and other public health efforts, $8.75 billion dollars for vaccine distribution, $19.695 billion for development and procurement of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics and ancillary medical supplies at the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and $3.25 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile.
Senator Murray has pushed for additional funds for testing and vaccines throughout COVID-19 relief negotiations. She released a white paper back in April outlining her priorities on testing, and in July outlining her priorities on vaccines.