New white paper from Senate Democrats outlines policies in eight areas crucial to ensuring one or more safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines that are produced, distributed, and administered widely enough to end the COVID-19 pandemic
Policies aim to avoid repeat of the mistakes that have plagued the Trump Administration’s testing efforts like poor leadership, supply chain issues, health disparities, and other challenges
Proposals address challenges around production, distribution, cost, health disparities, vaccine hesitancy, and more
White paper calls for $25 billion in new emergency funding to support COVID-19 vaccine efforts
Leader Schumer: “When it comes to protecting Americans from this pandemic, we cannot afford to not get this right. Republicans must join us in this effort and include the funding and policies laid out in this proposal in the next coronavirus response bill.”
Senator Murray: “Our best hope to end this pandemic is one or more safe, effective vaccines that are widely available and taken up by people across the country—Congress must act now to make sure this happens.”
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Democratic Leader Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released a white paper laying out a number of proposals from Senate Democrats to make sure COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, high quality, produced at scale, allocated in a manner that optimizes public health and reduces health disparities, free and accessible to everyone, and widely embraced by the public in order to end the COVID-19 pandemic and set the country on a path for economic recovery.
“The Trump administration’s haphazard approach to addressing the coronavirus pandemic has been a disaster of epic proportions,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. “This new proposal lays a roadmap for the all-out effort we need from our federal government to ensure vaccines are effective, free, widely available, and administrated in America. When it comes to protecting Americans from this pandemic, we cannot afford to not get this right. Republicans must join us in this effort and include the funding and policies laid out in this proposal in the next coronavirus response bill.”
“Our best hope to end this pandemic is one or more safe, effective vaccines that are widely available and taken up by people across the country—Congress must act now to make sure this happens. That’s why Democrats are putting down a clear marker about what needs to happen to make sure we get this right. Rapidly and equitably developing, producing, distributing, and administering hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine will be a massive challenge, demanding effective management, discipline, and transparency. Unfortunately, this Administration has a poor track record on all three. Instead, President Trump has repeatedly proven we cannot trust him to lead the COVID-19 response and put public health first by delaying testing, promoting unproven treatments, and constantly contradicting and criticizing experts,” said Senator Murray. “We can’t afford any more mistakes that put people’s lives in jeopardy and waste time we don’t have. It’s time for Republicans to stop making excuses for President Trump’s failed leadership, and start working with Democrats on solutions to finally get our response on track.”
The new white paper offers a broad look at the challenges that must be addressed to make the most of a safe, effective vaccine in order to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, with specific recommendation in eight key areas.
1. Requiring the Administration Develop and Implement a Comprehensive Strategic Plan;
2. Providing $25 Billion in Emergency Funding for Vaccines and Vaccination Activities;
3. Ensuring COVID-19 Vaccines are Available at No Cost;
4. Setting Rigorous Standards for Vaccine Development and Scientific Review;
5. Scaling Vaccine Manufacturing and Preventing Supply Chain Challenges;
6. Ensuring Equitable Distribution of Vaccines;
7. Preparing for and Implementing Widespread Vaccine Administration; and
8. Ensuring Post-Market Surveillance and Safety.
The white paper comes shortly after Senator Murray released a report detailing the Trump Administration’s failures to scale up COVID-19 testing nationwide. Following that report, Senator Murray warned, “If the Trump Administration’s vaccine efforts are even a fraction as chaotic as their testing efforts, our country is in deep trouble.”
Senator Murray has been pressing the Administration repeatedly about her concerns regarding its vaccine efforts and Operation Warp Speed. At a recent HELP Committee hearing she grilled Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention Director Dr. Redfield about the need for a comprehensive national vaccines plan, and asked Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Hahn to commit to being transparent in the vaccine review process. She followed up with Dr. Redfield again about the need for a national vaccine plan at a Senate Labor, Health, and Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee hearing focused on Operation Warp Speed. At the LHHS hearing she also asked National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Collins about ensuring COVID-19 vaccine trials include underrepresented communities and pregnant and lactating women, and asked Dr. Gary Disrbow, Acting Director of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), to commit that BARDA is avoiding conflicts of interest in awarding contracts and explain why some of BARDA’s recent contracts with pharmaceutical companies watered down the government’s march-in rights protections and weakened its ability to ensure fair vaccine pricing.
Read the full white paper HERE.