Advocacy Updates ~ December 21, 2020

December 21, 2020

Administration News

Executive Order on Ensuring Access to USG COVID-19 Vaccines

On December 8, President Trump issued an Executive Order (EO) that ensures Americans have priority access to COVID-19 vaccines developed in the United States or procured by the United States government. The EO does not go into detail about the U.S. government’s vaccine distribution plan, but the language of the EO does suggest that a plan is being developed for international access to U.S. government-acquired vaccines (Section 4 & 5).

Global Health Council will continue to advocate for equitable access to vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine. President and Executive Director, Loyce Pace, outlined some of her concerns in this Roll Call article from April.

FDA issues EUA for two COVID-19 vaccine candidates

On December 11, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Pfizer for its COVID-19 vaccine, the first authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. One week later, on December 18, FDA issued an EUA to Moderna for its COVID-19 vaccine, making it the second COVID-19 vaccine to be authorized in the U.S. Operation Warp Speed and private sector partners have now begun distributing the first allocation of doses.

Congressional News

Deal reached on FY21 and COVID-19 supplemental funding

On December 20, Congressional leaders reached a deal on appropriations for the fiscal year that began on October 1 as well as a COVID-19 relief package. Throughout negotiations, Global Health Council and several other organizations continued to advocate with key Congressional offices and staff for at least $20 billion for global health and humanitarian assistance in COVID-19 emergency funding. This ask was not included in the final bill but we were pleased to see funding for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. This is a constructive beginning to a larger, U.S. response to the pandemic worldwide. Read our full statement.

Negotiations continue for FY21 and COVID-19 supplemental funding

On December 11, the Senate passed a one-week Continuing Resolution (CR) that President Trump signed into law to avoid a government shutdown pushing the funding deadline to December 18. 

Global Health Council and several other organizations have made another advocacy appeal with key Congressional offices and staff to reiterate the call for at least $20 billion for global health and humanitarian assistance in COVID-19 emergency funding.

House Committee leadership selected for 117th Congress

In early December, House Republicans and Democrats solidified their selections for committee leadership in the next session of Congress.

  • House Appropriations Committee
    • Chair –  Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
    • Ranking Member – Representative Kay Granger (R-TX)
  • House Foreign Affairs Committee
    • Chair – Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY)
    • Ranking Member – Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX)
  • House Energy and Commerce Committee
    • Chair – Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ)
    • Ranking Member – Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)

Congressional Research Service release report on COVID-19 vaccines and global health issues

On December 8, the Congressional Research Service released a report which provided an overview of the U.S. government and multilateral efforts to develop COVID-19 vaccines. The report also describes how other related issues might affect the availability of COVID-19 vaccines. The report states that Congress may want to consider several issues, including:

  • Global health funding options for COVID-19 vaccines
  • Low- and middle-income countries’ access to COVID-19 vaccines
  • Adapting vaccine platforms for future infectious disease outbreaks. 

Multilateral News

UN General Assembly convenes special session on COVID-19

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the G20 to back the World Health Organization’s Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator program to develop and distribute vaccines. He asked world leaders to address the $28 billion financial gap. Other leaders stressed the importance of strengthening international cooperation and multilateralism and noted that the pandemic had aggravated inequities across the globe. 

Italy assumes G20 presidency

Italy recently took over the presidency of the G20 and launched its new website. An outline of the country’s program can be found here. The G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting is scheduled to take place on October 5-6, 2021. Italy has also scheduled a Global Health Summit for May 21 in Rome to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, access to vaccinations, and international cooperation.

Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response Third Meeting & Town Hall series

The Panel met for its third meeting last week on December 16-17. On December 15, the Panel held the first in a series of town hall exchanges with stakeholders. While details are still being determined by the Secretariat for seven stakeholder groups, the first event was a collaboration with the International Council of Nurses and Nursing Now. 

Global Progress Report on WASH in Healthcare Facilities published

The WHO and UNICEF recently published a new progress report on WASH in healthcare facilities. The report includes a country tracker with progress on the eight Practical Steps in 47 countries, numerous case studies, and commentary on better integrating WASH into health initiatives.