US should lead global effort in developing, distributing COVID-19 vaccine: Congressmen
Washington: Two US Congressmen, including an Indian-American, have asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to ensure the United States leads the international efforts to develop and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine.
In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday, Congressmen Ami Bera and Ted Yoho urged the US to join the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), an international public-private partnership currently leading efforts to build an international vaccine cooperation mechanism.
The participation of the United States in CEPI, of which India is a member, would accelerate the development of COVID-19 vaccine and give it a say in CEPI's vaccine cooperation efforts, the two Congressmen said.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on our public health and economy. Increased testing and contact tracing will allow states to begin slowly loosening restrictions, but only with a vaccine will Americans be able to truly return to normal," Bera said.
"While I firmly believe that the US will be the first country to develop a vaccine, it's possible that others may do so first. That's why it's critical that the US lead on the international development, production, and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine, including the creation of an international mechanism, to ensure that the vaccine reaches healthcare workers around the world first," he said.
Bera said in the absence of participation and leadership of the US, there is a risk that the rules may be dictated by other countries which could leave American healthcare workers without access to a vaccine when others receive it.
Yoho noted that the US and the rest of the world were caught ill-prepared in the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Now is the time for the United States to show leadership and contribute to the funding necessary to support research and vaccine development for not only tackling COVID-19 but many other future diseases to come," he said.
The coronavirus, which originated in China's Wuhan city in December last, has claimed over 65,000 lives in the US and over 235,000 lives globally.