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Three Percent of Defense Spending to Fight the Pandemic

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressional leaders are discussing a White House emergency funding request for the domestic and global COVID-19 response. Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program, issued the following statement:

“The defense budget request is $813 billion. By comparison, the White House has asked for just $5 billion to fight global COVID, or $22.5 billion to fight COVID in total.

“That’s roughly three percent of defense spending to help end a pandemic that has taken more American lives than any war, and nearly twenty million lives worldwide so far.

“Without emergency funding, vaccines will expire on shelves in countries where they are needed most. The extraordinary efforts of scientists, health workers and activists worldwide to develop, manufacture and distribute lifesaving medicine against COVID will falter for want of the least we could ask of governments.

“Health experts called for $17 billion from Congress to resource the global fight. $5 billion is the bare minimum needed to prevent global vaccination, testing, and emergency relief from screeching to a halt.

“Ending the pandemic is a choice. Congress must step up and pass funds to support the White House’s already-pared back request. Failing to fund the global fight against COVID-19 is a choice to extend the pandemic, to accept preventable suffering and insecurity for all, and to live with the knowledge that, deep in the time of the world’s greatest need, the United States gave up.”