November 16, 2020
Americans are dying. Politics cannot be allowed to slow vaccine roll out.
AVAC and Treatment Action Group (TAG) welcome today’s announcement that preliminary data from the efficacy trial of Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine indicate a high-level of protection against COVID-19. This is much needed good news as the US and other countries continue to see dangerously rising rates of COVID-19. As our organizations expressed in a statement last week about the Pfizer mRNA vaccine news, caution is warranted in interpreting this preliminary information as we wait for additional data from Moderna and further actions from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other global regulatory authorities.
In light of these hopeful announcements, planning for distribution of both of these vaccines must be accelerated. In the US, that planning – and potentially the beginning of distribution – will span two presidential administrations. It is clear that on January 20, 2021, there will be a change in executive leadership, even while the election results have not been certified and the Trump campaign continues to baselessly contest the results through lawsuits in a number of states.
AVAC and TAG call on the Trump campaign and administration, senior elected officials in the Republican Party and the leadership of the Republican National Committee to put the lives of the American people ahead of politics and move to ensure that there is a smooth transition of power that focuses on transparency. The GOP must work hand in hand with the incoming Biden Administration to maximize the impact of the limited number of vaccine doses that are expected to be available late in 2020 and early 2021.
The Biden transition team has laid out plans for a comprehensive COVID response that give us hope that – especially with the deployment of highly effective vaccines where they are needed most – the pandemic may begin to be controlled in 2021. That work will be more effective and will save more American lives if the incoming administration has all possible information about stockpiles, distribution plans and other logistics along with the ability to meet with and work with current administration officials and state and local officials.
But there is also urgent work to be done by the current Congress and Administration. Deploying these vaccines will be one of the most ambitious public health undertakings in history. A comprehensive, fully-funded and nationally-directed deployment plan must be developed now to complement the billions of dollars invested and the time, talent and commitment of thousands of researchers and trial participants who gave us these results. Vaccine costs should reflect the significant contributions of public financing to their design and development. Congress must come together in a bipartisan way to ensure that the CDC and state and local health departments have the funding, technology, training and support needed to ensure that vaccines can be deployed as quickly as possible to reach the most at-risk populations, accompanied by appropriate, evidence-based and trusted public health information.
We have lost almost 250,000 Americans to this virus, and new infections are rising every day. It is past time to put American lives ahead of politics.