• Bill vaccinates 60% of world in 2022

  • Launches new Global Pandemic Prevention  Fund

  • Turbocharges Global Health Security

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SENATE COMMITTEE PASSES HISTORIC BIPARTISAN BILL TO PANDEMIC-PROOF

THE PLANET

COVID ACTIVISTS: “This bipartisan bill is as significant as PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria rolled into one.”

R2H Action calling on Congress to urgently pass—and fund—S. 2297

July 29, 2021

Contact: Alicia Stromberg, alicia.stromberg@r2haction.org

[Washington, DC] Yesterday, the Senate moved historic bipartisan legislation out of committee that will, if passed, vaccinate the world to stop needless deaths and the emergence of COVID-19 variants, and launch a history-making new Global Fund for Pandemic Prevention and Preparedness.

 

Right to Health Action, a grassroots movement of COVID survivors and families, global health scholars and front-line health workers is at the forefront of drafting this legislation, in partnership with Senators Risch and Menendez, and alongside almost two dozen other leading health and environmental organizations. If passed into law, the International Pandemic Preparedness and COVID-19 Response Act (S. 2297) will transform the world.

“This bipartisan bill is the most significant piece of global health legislation in more than a decade, since the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief,” said Paul Davis, R2H Action’s Policy Director, who was involved in drafting both the current bill as well as PEPFAR in 2003.

 

“While attention is focused on partisan contests, members of Congress and a COVID grassroots movement have delivered a transformative bill that will stop COVID and prevent this pandemic nightmare from ever happening again. We have been mobilizing for this for more than a year, organizing more than 1,000 meetings between constituents and members of Congress. We are grateful to Senators Risch and Menendez and all the Senators who voted this bill out of committee, and are dedicated to mobilizing our movement to pass this bill this year.” Davis was also involved in launching the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in 2000-2002.

The bill incorporates three visionary initiatives: 

  • Lead a global effort to vaccinate 60% of all people worldwide by mid-2022, and build up local vaccine manufacturing capacity and regional vaccine hubs in the developing world. This chapter requires the government to enter into discussions with prescription drug corporations holding monopolies over COVID-19 vaccines and use Presidential authorities to license the vaccines and support technology transfer to local manufacturers in developing countries. 

  • Establish a Global Fund for Pandemic Prevention and Preparedness to help resource-constrained countries develop and implement comprehensive pandemic prevention plans that strengthen health systems, meet WHO’s international Health Regulations within five years, and, in a particularly welcome measure, take action to stop new disease spillover events at the source, before they happen. The new global fund will also support communities and countries to address deforestation and wildlife trade—the largest drivers of the rapid acceleration of new zoonotic outbreaks seen over the last three decades. The literal landscape will change as this new fund will help drive the reduction of deforestation, regulation of wildlife trade, and support biodiversity in zoonotic hotspots around the world.

  • Turbocharge the Global Health Security Agenda, codifying in law and expanding the executive orders issued by President Obama and renewed by President Trump, and putting real resources on the table to contain outbreaks before they spread. The bilateral programs in the bill include an important health systems strengthening pilot program in at least five countries to provide assistance and resources to poor countries to achieve resilient lab, surveillance and supply chain systems able to stop outbreaks before they spread, including support for poor countries to attain a health workforce that conforms with the World Health Organization’s recommendation for at least 44.5 doctors, nurses, and midwives, as well as at least 15 paid, trained, equipped, and professionally supervised community health workers for every 10,000 people.

“This bipartisan legislation will be transformative in a way that has not been seen since the establishment of PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” stated Dr. Leslye Heilig from R2H Action. "Members of Congress should co-sponsor this bill, and Congressional leaders should schedule a floor vote as soon as possible."

 

”Experts agree that it will cost $20 billion annually to pandemic-proof the planet. COVID-19 cost the U.S. economy $16 trillion. Even if the United States were to pay $6.7 billion every year--one-third of the global cost of preventing pandemics--it would take 2,400 years for that sum to add up to the cost of one, single COVID-19 level pandemic,” shared Pranav Savanur, Policy Team Lead at R2H Action who helped draft the legislation. “The new pandemic fund is the best way to share these costs with other donor nations. We need Congress to pass this bill and fully fund the fight.”

 

At the Committee’s meeting yesterday, Ranking Member Senator James Risch stated, “Something of this magnitude has to be a bipartisan bill. At some point in history, this bill may be the most important thing that everyone on this committee has done.”

 

Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, co-chair of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response and former Liberian President told the UN General Assembly yesterday, “I know all too well that after Ebola struck Liberia and our neighbours, sincere promises of ‘never again’ were made—but it took years for an effective prevention response, leaving us vulnerable to the next devastating pandemic. So today there is a choice: carry on with business as usual with the inevitability of a future pandemic catastrophe, or to make real and lasting change. That choice is clear: now we must act - this must be the last pandemic to cause devastation on the scale we are witnessing today.”

 

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.

 

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