Congressman: Biden must ensure COVID vaccines are 'readily available for people around the world'

Congresswoman on millions of unused AstraZeneca vaccine doses: We want to make sure it's 'both effective and safe'

Updated: March 18, 2021 - 6:16pm

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Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and other Democratic House members want the Biden Administration to allow the international community to access tools and vaccine resources that U.S. companies have developed as a way to step up COVID-19 vaccine distribution globally.

The lawmakers are calling on President Biden to support an "emergency temporary waiver of some Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) rules," according to DeLauro's office.  

"The COVID-19 pandemic knows no borders. Our globalized systems cannot recover if only parts of the world are vaccinated and have protection against the virus. We must make vaccines available everywhere if we are going to crush the virus anywhere," DeLauro said on Wednesday.

Other Democratic House members joining DeLauro in the effort to step up global distribution of the vaccine include Michigan Rep. Andy Levin, who said he's "grateful to the Biden administration for working super hard to rush vaccines" to U.S. communities.

"But to combat this virus, vaccines must be readily available for people around the world. That's why I'm joining these great colleagues today to urge the Biden administration to support the TRIPS waiver for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments," he said. "This is both a moral and practical imperative. This horrible virus doesn't care about who you are or where you live, it can easily navigate human made borders."

New York Rep. Adriano Espaillat said COVID-19 vaccine patents should be accessible to everybody around the world. 

"Why are we holding back this patent to be accessible to other countries that are hurting. I hear from Latin American leaders and countries that are in dire need of the vaccine," he said. "And they just cannot understand how it is that the United States has not taken a leadership role, so let's work on this."

The U.S. is currently sitting on millions of doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which has been approved for use in other countries but not the U.S. Some countries, however, have stopped administering the vaccine due to a small number of patients experiencing blood clots after receiving it. 

Just the News asked DeLauro what she wants the U.S. government to do with the doses it's sitting on since they're not being used right now.

"Well, I think we all want to make sure that, I mean, that it is safe and that it is, one, both effective and safe. That, I think, is the critical ingredient of what we need to try to move forward with that and that will be determined," DeLauro said during a virtual news conference on Wednesday.

"And to see how quickly we may – that will allow us to move forward, allow the Europeans to move forward with that. But they have made a decision to halt, at the moment, and to wait and see about its effectiveness and its safety," she added.

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