PRESIDENT IGNORES 87.5% OF BIPARTISAN FUNDING PLEA TO PANDEMIC-PROOF THE PLANET
May 28, 2021
Contact: Alicia Stromberg,
120 Members of Congress, hundreds of organizations, major U.S. global health and environmental coalitions, and more than 120,000 voters all called on Joe Biden for at least $2 billion for a new Global Pandemic Preparedness and Prevention Fund. 110 Members of Congress and hundreds of thousands more Americans urged the Biden Administration to launch a global plan to vaccinate the world—before variants outrun the vaccines on hand.
Joe Biden’s budget did neither.
The President’s budget today included only $250 million for this fund—tragically leaving the world at risk for COVID-the sequel—sooner, rather than later. In addition, the President’s budget included no new provisions to get vaccines to the world, even though as little as $25 billion would vaccinate everyone, everywhere, while generating over $9 trillion in economic activity and $1 trillion worldwide in new tax receipts: “The highest return on public investment in modern history,” according to the IMF’s Director.
Right to Health Action’s 125,000 COVID-19 families, health workers, and activists decry the funding shortfall and missing vaccine plan in President Biden’s Budget, and call on Congress to fund the critical gaps. The grassroots movement also criticized the President for his continued silence on much-needed action to prevent spillover events and stop pandemics at the source.
New disease outbreaks are rapidly accelerating, driven by deforestation and wildlife trade. Scientists have long known that diseases like COVID would come, and that outbreaks are getting worse. We’ve known what to do—but lacked the political will to act.
“I work in a hospital. I’ve held up far too many dying people’s phones and listened to them speak their last words to their families before they die alone. Joe Biden is repeating the mistakes he made after SARS and Ebola, and failing to learn the stark lessons of COVID-19,” said Fiona Mortell, Policy Team Lead for R2H Action. “The majority of the President’s caucus urged him, in writing, to include $2 billion in his budget for a new global fund to stop imminent pandemics. Congress needs to use it’s power of the purse to correct this error.”
Experts from McKinsey and the Harvard Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment agree that annual global investments of as little as $20 billion, from all sources internationally, are needed to prevent and contain new infectious disease outbreaks. This will avert $31-$50 trillion in economic losses. The estimated cost of COVID-19 borne by the United States alone is at least $16 trillion— not counting government stimulus checks and relief expenditures. Global costs are vastly higher.
Even the boldest of pandemic prevention plans is a modest response when compared to the human and economic devastation that we are now facing. Activists are surprised, disappointed and angered by the President’s shortchanging pandemic prevention, as well as neglecting the urgent need to vaccinate the world.
“The United States has the power to end the threat of new global pandemics, and save millions of lives,” said Mortell. “We are disappointed, and surprised that President Joe Biden is kneecapping a new global pandemic prevention fund before it has even launched—ignoring bipartisan pleas from Congress, constituents, and civil society organizations. Congress now needs to make up the difference, and prioritize the funds we need to save billions of lives around the world.”
ABOUT R2H Action: We are a grassroots movement of scholars, front-line health workers and people who have lost someone to COVID-19. We are organizing to stop the cycle of outbreak-panic-neglect that leaves millions dead in the current wave of accelerating pandemics. Our leaders were involved in previous advocacy campaigns to launch PEPFAR, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the U.S. Ebola response, as well as campaigns to ensure more Americans have better, more affordable health care.