Leahy Statement On The Bipartisan Agreement For Additional COVID Aid

I am glad that we have reached a bipartisan agreement to provide $10 billion in desperately needed funding to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  Through great personal sacrifice by the American people, in particular our many brave healthcare workers, and an unprecedented mobilization of federal resources, we are slowly returning to a sense of “normal.”  But this pandemic is far from over.  This needed funding will allow us to purchase additional vaccines, testing, therapeutics and treatments like monoclonal antibodies as we brace for a potential surge in the coming months. 

However, I am deeply disappointed that this agreement does not provide any funding – none – to support a global vaccination campaign.  This virus originated half way around the world and it does not recognize national borders.  We ignore that fact at our peril.  In many countries the vaccination rate is under 15 percent, and the virus is running rampant.  In Europe, we are already seeing a surge from the even more contagious subvariant of Omicron, known as BA.2, which is now the dominant strain among new U.S. cases.  Doing nothing to slow the global spread of COVID-19 is foolhardy.  As the virus continues to mutate and wreak havoc overseas, more Americans will become sick and die.  

In the coming weeks, I and others will be advocating for additional emergency funding to support our efforts abroad to end this pandemic and to address the looming food security crisis that is threatening the lives of millions of people in Afghanistan and multiple other countries.  I hope our Republican colleagues will join us.

In the meantime, I strongly support this bipartisan agreement and urge its passage as soon as possible.

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