(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) sent a letter with a group of Senators to Dr. Moncef Slaoui, Chief Advisor of Operation Warp Speed, and General Gustave Perna, Chief Operating Officer of Operation Warp Speed, asking about recent reports stating that earlier this year, the Trump Administration declined to purchase additional doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine when given the opportunity. The Senators underscore that the decision could hinder efforts to launch a nationwide vaccination campaign as the U.S. will reportedly now be unable to purchase additional doses of the vaccine from Pfizer until pre-orders from other countries are filled. In their letter, the Senators expressed concern about the Trump Administration’s lack of planning and transparency and pressed for more information about its preparations to purchase vaccines. The letter was led by U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
“We write to you about reports the United States Government declined to exercise its option to purchase additional doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine earlier this year. We are concerned the failure to secure an adequate supply of vaccines will needlessly prolong the COVID-19 pandemic in this country, causing further loss of life and economic devastation. We fear this is yet another instance in which the Trump Administration’s failure to develop a comprehensive national vaccines plan in a timely manner could jeopardize efforts to get people vaccinated and ultimately end this pandemic,” wrote the Senators.
The letter continued, “To earn public confidence, demonstrate accountability, and ensure the incoming Biden Administration has the information it needs to hit the ground running in getting our COVID-19 response on track, the Administration must be more transparent about its preparations, as well as how much funding is available, and is needed, to purchase, distribute, and administer sufficient vaccine to end this pandemic.”
The full text of the letter is available HERE.
Shaheen and Hassan have led efforts in the Senate to ensure the United States is prepared to quickly produce and deliver potential COVID-19 vaccines to the American people. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act included a Shaheen and Hassan-supported provision containing $3.5 billion to support vaccine development and manufacturing. Shaheen and Hassan have also called for robust funding to ensure the swift distribution of COVID-19 vaccines as a part of any upcoming legislation to address the pandemic – following up on their call from earlier this year for Congress to provide at least $5.6 billion in federal funding to develop and support COVID-19 vaccine infrastructure. Earlier this month, Shaheen participated in a virtual briefing with Lonza, a Portsmouth-based pharmaceutical company, on the firm’s efforts to manufacture Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate.