Chair DeLauro Statement at United States Global COVID-19 Response: Actions Taken & Future Needs Hearing
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee's hearing on United States Global COVID-19 Response: Actions Taken & Future Needs:
Thank you, so much Madam Chair I’m delighted to be with you today and with the committee. It’s an important hearing and I want to say a thank you to the witnesses who are testifying.
Even as we have turned a corner with the COVID-19 in the U.S. as you pointed out it is far from over across the globe. Infections are rising in 55 countries. COVID-19 vaccines have been widely available in more developed countries for more than ten months, disparities in vaccine access between wealthy and developing countries has meant that even as some of us here are receiving third-dose booster shots, many people in lower-income countries have not yet received a single dose by some reports.
If there is something we have learned from this pandemic, it is that when one of us suffers, we all suffer. When one of us gets sick, we all get sick. John Donne famously wrote in 1624 during another global pandemic, no one is an island; anyone’s death diminishes all of us, because we all are involved in mankind. It is not just our moral imperative to care for those around us, it is the only way to keep ourselves and our own communities safe.
So I’m glad that the United States under the leadership of President Biden has purchased 1 billion Pfizer doses and donated 100 million vaccine doses from the U.S. stockpile to allocate through the global COVID-19 vaccine collaboration known as “COVAX.” And I am proud that 200 million of these COVID-19 vaccines have already been delivered to more than 100 countries around the world.
However, there is still much work to be done to support our partners around the world as they fight COVID-19.
The United States has to play a leadership role in ending the virus’ uncontrolled spread in the world’s less developed countries. We need to enhance equitable access to vaccines across the world, making tests, therapeutics, personal protective equipment (PPE) more widely available. We need to begin the work now to prevent future pandemics, by aligning around common global targets, tracking progress, and supporting one another in fulfilling our commitments.
I also want to add a note that given that the United States has so heavily invested in the development and the production of the vaccines that I think it’s critical that our pharmaceutical companies work to speed up the production and are actively engaged and involved, with assisting countries and allowing countries to – and what we did with the waiver at the TRIPS summit is to allow a waiver so that those countries would be able to manufacture these vaccines and that we provide the technical assistance for them to be able to deliver them. I think that is just a moral responsibility that we have.
So, I am grateful to our witnesses for joining us today to detail the actions we have taken thus far, to tell us more about their future needs. I look forward to hearing more from you about the strategies that we can use to distribute these vaccines as efficiently and as equitably as possible. Because ultimately if we fail to bring the virus under control in every corner of the world, then we must not ask for whom the bell tolls. It will toll for all of us.
With that let me thank Chairwoman Lee, to Ranking Member Rogers and others of the committee, and I yield back.