US lawmakers, industry welcome global distribution of Covid vaccines

PTI
Washington, United States Published: Jun 04, 2021, 08:15 AM(IST)

Vials labelled "AstraZeneca, Pfizer - Biontech, Johnson&Johnson, Sputnik V coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine" are seen in this illustration Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The US Chamber of Commerce in a statement welcomed the efforts to boost global vaccine manufacturing and expand vaccine access

Top American lawmakers, industry groups and Indian Americans on Thursday welcomed the decision of the Biden Administration to send 25 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to other countries, including India.

"This is a good first step. I continue to urge the administration to ramp up its global vaccine distribution with a plan that considers urgent need and regional priorities and I look forward to the next batch being allocated quickly," Senator Mitt Romney said Thursday.

"Countries like Taiwan and India are in desperate need of COVID-19 vaccines, so I'm pleased that the administration is moving into the implementation stage of its global vaccine distribution plan. US vaccines are far safer and more effective than those coming out of China or Russia," Romney said.

Congresswoman Grace Meng commended the Biden Administration for unveiling the United States' plan to share COVID-19 vaccines with other nations, including India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and other countries in Asia.

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"If we are going to defeat COVID-19 and move past this pandemic, we must fight this virus not just here at home but across the globe and I applaud President Biden and his administration for proceeding with his commitment to do so," said Meng.

"These donations of vaccines are urgently needed. They will save lives and help with the world's recovery and I thank the President and his administration for hearing the pleas that I and others made for sharing vaccines with these other countries. I look forward to seeing the help that these vaccine distributions will provide and I'll be monitoring the situation closely," the Congresswoman said.

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The US Chamber of Commerce in a statement welcomed the efforts to boost global vaccine manufacturing and expand vaccine access, including the decision to distribute nearly 19 million doses through the COVAX coalition and provide millions of additional doses directly to countries in need.

"As countries around the globe struggle to manage the health crisis, we know that more can, and must, be done. As production exceeds demand in the United States, the administration should release additional doses into the global supply," said Myron Brilliant, executive vice-president and head of international affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce.

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"The good news: For months, vaccine producers have been scaling up production exponentially and sharing intellectual property with manufacturers via licenses to boost global capacity. These collaborations, rather than the risky move to circumvent them via IP waivers, will be key to vaccinating billions worldwide," he said.

Congresswoman Young Kim said that the US has provided PPE, medical equipment, therapeutics and raw vaccine materials to India over the past month. "However, with new infections daily and an overwhelmed health infrastructure, India needs help to ramp up its vaccine production capabilities and we can and should help," she said.
Diaspora advocacy group, IMPACT welcomed the decision.

"We are thankful the administration has responded to the pleas of the Indian American community. But with over one billion people in India still waiting to get access to vaccines, we must do much, much more. The US will have a surplus of nearly 300M vaccines by July and President Biden should act swiftly to send those doses to countries in dire need such as India," said Neil Makhija, executive director at IMPACT.

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Dr Vijay G Prabhakar, a public health physician described it as a "huge positive step forward" for US-India relations.

"Yes the quantum is lower than what we have been asking for but we wholeheartedly welcome this initial shipment to India in June," he said in a statement.

Welcoming the decision, Dr R D Prabhu from Las Vegas in Nevada said that this will go a long way in helping the people of India to successfully fight against COVID-19.

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