April 13, 2021
President Joseph R. Biden
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Biden,
Thank you for your leadership strengthening the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic. We appreciate your administration’s commitment to COVAX and the recently announced Quad partnership, to support vaccine access abroad. Yet without much more ambitious leadership, the scale of global vaccine need will not be met.
Even as our country expands access to Covid-19 vaccines through the broadest vaccination campaign in U.S. history, for most of the world, there is no relief in sight. Few of the billions of people living in low- and middle-income countries will be vaccinated against Covid-19 this year. Many may not be vaccinated until 2024, if ever. Virus variants threaten to deepen and prolong the crisis.
The only way to get the pandemic under control is to accelerate global vaccine manufacturing. The United States has capabilities to help the world make billions more doses of Covid-19 vaccine for about $3 a dose, a fraction of the cost of inaction, and shorten the pandemic.
We urge your administration to announce in your fiscal year 2022 budget an ambitious global vaccine manufacturing program to end the pandemic and build vaccine infrastructure for the future.
The United States should help the world produce billions more vaccine doses within approximately one year.
- For example, modest capital investments (about $2 billion) can retrofit vaccine manufacturing facilities and install additional mRNA production lines. Doses can then be manufactured for less than $3 each. U.S. leadership is likely to inspire co-funding by other governments and international organizations. A total investment of less than $25 billion, including whole-of-government efforts to source raw materials and provide technical assistance, can support the rapid production of 8 billion doses of mRNA vaccine, enough for more than half the world’s population.
- The U.S. should support a massive expansion of manufacturing and establish hubs for vaccine production with the World Health Organization, including hubs located in Africa, Asia and Latin America. These hubs will democratize production and improve global health security, particularly if they are accountable to the public and equipped with adaptable technologies, such as mRNA platforms, believed critical to defeating the next pandemic.
- The United States should ensure that technology is shared openly, including via the WHO Covid-19 Technology Access Pool, so that scientists and manufacturers worldwide can support vaccine delivery and development. Where necessary, the U.S. government should use its power under existing law to license technology, ensuring its availability and affordability now and for the future. Notably, taxpayers made substantial investments in Covid-19 vaccine research and development, and the U.S. government owns a key patent relied on by the major vaccine makers.
Without a vaccine manufacturing plan of global ambition, millions more people may die, with tens of millions pushed into extreme poverty. Black and Brown communities will bear the brunt of this preventable suffering. The progress achieved through decades of U.S. overseas development assistance will be reversed. People living in the United States may feel the ripple effects with ongoing threats of virus mutations. The economic costs to the United States are estimated at $800 billion to $1.4 trillion.
U.S. history demonstrates that by mobilizing extraordinary resources and the country’s full capabilities, while working closely with global partners, the country can solve complex technical challenges and support humanity in times of great need. This is one such moment, and there is no time to lose. We urge you to launch an ambitious vaccine manufacturing program in your FY22 budget to help end the global pandemic.
Action Against Hunger
American Jewish World Service
American Medical Student Association
American Medical Women’s Association
American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene
Be a Hero Fund
Buddhist Global Relief (USA)
Center for Popular Democracy
Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health (CPATH)
Chinese-American Planning Council
Christian Connections for International Health (USA)
Doctors for America
Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, North America
Episcopal Relief & Development
Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research (FIAR)
Friends Committee on National Legislation
FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University
Helen Keller International
Human Rights Watch
Incentives for Global Health
International Medical Corps
International Rescue Committee
International Treatment Preparedness Coalition
Islamic Relief USA
Jesuit Refugee Service
Last Mile Health
Management Sciences for Health
Médecins Sans Frontières, USA / Doctors Without Borders
MSI United States
National Council of Churches USA
Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
Partners In Health
Physicians for Human Rights
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Right to Health Action
Salud y Farmacos
Social Security Works
The Borgen Project
Treatment Action Group (TAG)
Union for Reform Judaism
Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM)
Yale Global Health Justice Partnership