Clyburn, Select Subcommittee Members Press Trump Administration on Vaccine Distribution Efforts
Washington, D.C. (December 16, 2020) — Today, Chairman James E. Clyburn and all Democratic Members of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller seeking information on the Administration’s coronavirus vaccine acquisition and distribution efforts:
“[R]ecent public reports raise troubling questions about whether the Trump Administration missed opportunities as recently as November 2020 to purchase additional vaccine doses, which could lead to significant delays in vaccinations across the United States,” the Members wrote. “Our nation stands at a critical juncture in the fight against coronavirus. The emergency use authorization of the first coronavirus vaccine is a remarkable breakthrough, but critical questions must to be answered regarding how HHS and DOD plans to acquire and distribute sufficient vaccines to protect all Americans.”
This letter follows reporting that the Trump Administration declined to exercise an option to purchase hundreds of millions of additional vaccine doses from Pfizer to supplement an initial purchase of 100 million doses in July 2020. Pfizer’s vaccine requires two doses, so the 100 million dose purchase will inoculate 50 million people.
Today’s letter continues: “The Administration’s apparent decision to forego additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine raises questions about whether HHS and DOD will be able to deploy vaccinations to all who need them. So far, one vaccine candidate has been approved and two others have shown promising results, but the Administration has not yet made clear how or when sufficient doses will be available to most Americans.”
On July 24, 2020, the Select Subcommittee submitted a bipartisan request for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a comprehensive review of Operation Warp Speed and related vaccine development efforts. On September 15, 2020, Chairman Clyburn and Rep. Bill Foster wrote to HHS and DOD to urge compliance with GAO’s oversight. GAO requested information regarding vaccine contracts in August 2020 but did not receive the Pfizer contract until late November 2020, and has still not received all the documents it requested.
The Members wrote: “Had GAO been given access in a timely manner, Congress may have had notice of potential shortages of this vaccine. We urge you to provide GAO with full and immediate access to all requested documents and information so that it can conduct its review and help identify and address other potential problems.”
Click here to read today’s letter to Secretary Azar and Acting Secretary Miller.