Democratic lawmakers introduce legislation to ensure US can mass-produce COVID-19 vaccine
Rep. Ann Kuster (D-N.H.) and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.) introduced legislation on Thursday aimed at ensuring the United States will be able to mass-produce and administer a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it’s available.
The Coronavirus Vaccine Development Act includes language that would direct the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to award “contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements” to expand and improve the manufacturing capacity of vaccines and provide the necessary medical supplies to administer the vaccines.
Under the legislation, the administration would also be required to provide a report assessing manufacturing capacity and supply chains in an attempt to be as prepared as possible to vaccinate people in the United States as soon as a vaccine is approved for use.
Kuster said she believes the bill will help ensure the nation won’t face “unnecessary delays and obstacles” in getting vaccinated.
“In order to fully reopen our economy, put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, and move onto our ‘new normal,’ the majority of Americans will need to be vaccinated for this virus,” Kuster said in a statement.
“Our nation’s top doctors and vaccine experts tell us that we are still a ways away from identifying and approving a vaccine for this virus, but we must begin working now to ensure that we are prepared to administer vaccines once one is available.”
Jeffries echoed Kuster’s sentiment, adding that he believes in a comprehensive plan to efficiently administer the vaccine.
"While we haven't gotten to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must start preparing to reopen America in a way that protects our public health,” he said in a statement. “A vaccine will be crucial to that effort, and our nation will need a plan to get one to the American people swiftly.
Anthony Fauci, a top infectious disease expert and member of the White House coronavirus task force, told The Journal of the American Medical Association that he’s hopeful there will be 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine available by the beginning of 2021.