COVID-19 Global Vaccination Caucus Statement on Omicron Variant and FY22 Appropriations Omnibus

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the bicameral Global Vaccination Caucus—Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley; U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Tina Smith (D-MN); and U.S. Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-08), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ-07), and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-07)—released the following joint statement:

“As experts work to understand the Omicron threat, the emergence of this new variant only further underscores the urgent need for the United States to commit additional financial resources to vaccinate the world as swiftly as possible. This includes financial support for global COVID-19 vaccine access, distribution, and delivery in the world’s poorest countries. For months, we have been sounding the alarm, including by introducing the bicameral NOVID Act in June, that the longer it takes to vaccinate the world, the higher the risk that new vaccine-resistant variants will jeopardize our domestic and international public health and economic recovery. Now, despite the warnings that we and global health experts have repeatedly delivered, our fears of a prolonged pandemic may be coming to pass.

“Since President Biden submitted his initial Fiscal Year 2022 budget request in May, the United States has made significant strides in our COVID-19 vaccination campaign domestically, while much of the rest of the developing world has struggled to vaccinate its populations and has been devastated by the emergence of a highly contagious Delta variant. With the onset of a new potentially dangerous variant, and the possible emergence of future variants, we urge the White House and Congress to work together to supplement previous appropriations for global COVID-19 vaccine access in the Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations Omnibus at a level truly commensurate with the scale of this pandemic crisis. This includes financing the swift end-to-end delivery of the millions of doses the United States has procured but that have yet to be distributed across the globe.

“This virus has battered economies, devastated health systems, and killed over 5.2 million people worldwide. We must respond at the scale necessary by investing in the global vaccinations that are essential to turn the corner on the pandemic.”