Advocacy Updates ~ February 22, 2021
COVID-19 emergency funds progressing through budget reconciliation
After passing a budget resolution for fiscal year (FY) 2021, Congress has continued to progress toward passing President Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief proposal. Authorizing committees in the House have been marking up their individual bills. The House Committee on the Budget plans to mark up the entire package on Monday, February 22.
Congress recently passed an FY21 budget resolution to begin the process of reconciliation—a procedural approach to passing budget-related legislation with only a simple majority. Text of the Energy and Commerce legislation is available here.
US joins G7 leaders in supporting ACT-A and COVAX
On Friday, in their first meeting since April 2020, G7 leaders met virtually and committed to working together to beat COVID-19. In their joint statement, the G7 leaders committed to strengthening the World Health Organization (WHO), and affirmed their support of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and its vaccine pillar COVAX, among other commitments. Using funds Congress appropriated in December 2020, the White House pledged an initial $2 billion for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance for the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, which supports vaccine access for low- and middle-income countries, and an additional $2 billion over the next two years as other donor pledges are fulfilled.
US funding returns to WHO
Secretary of State Blinken told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that the United States will pay over $200 million in dues owed to WHO by the end of the month. In his delivered remarks, he emphasized the Biden administration’s commitment to international cooperation, pledging specific support for the Global Health Security Agenda, participation in the ACT-Accelerator, and COVAX.
CDC releases $200 million to boost COVID-19 surveillance
On Wednesday, the administration announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will invest $200 million to increase genomic surveillance of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This “down payment” will increase the CDC’s sequencing more than threefold and allow the agency to identify, track, and mitigate SARS-CoV-2 variants through genomic sequencing.
Call for Comment: Vaccine Diplomacy & Distribution
Global Health Council is interested in hearing from our membership about their take on recent discussions around COVID-19 vaccine distribution globally. Your comments on topics ranging from equity, access to specific vaccines, distribution plans, hesitancy, intellectual property, engagement with bilateral/multilateral partners, etc. are welcome and encouraged. Please email email@example.com with your comments. We plan to use this information to help inform a larger advocacy effort to address COVID-19 vaccine distribution around the world.
WHO releases Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19 response
Last week, WHO launched its 2021 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) for COVID-19 response, seeking nearly $2 billion to fund it. The plan has six main objectives:
- Suppressing transmission
- Reducing exposure
- Countering misinformation and disinformation
- Protecting vulnerable people
- Reducing death and illness
- Accelerating equitable access to new tools against COVID-19 such as vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics
Approximately $1.2 billion will go to the global collaboration to make COVID-19 medicines accessible to people everywhere, ACT-A. Another $643 million will go towards supporting people who require humanitarian assistance due to conflict, insecurity or other crises.