Rep. Raja KrishnamoorthiSubramanian (Raja) Raja KrishnamoorthiA proposal to tackle congressional inside trading: Invest in the US Instagram sparks new concerns over ‘kidfluencer’ culture Hillicon Valley: Intel heads to resume threats hearing scrapped under Trump | New small business coalition to urge action on antitrust policy | Amazon backs corporate tax hike to pay for infrastructure MORE (D-Ill.) on Saturday evening called on the Biden Administration to release its supply of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to countries experiencing a surge in coronavirus infections.
Krishnamoorthi, a member of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis said in a statement that the U.S. needs to get the doses of the vaccine that it is not using to other countries that are experiencing intense surges in COVID-19.
“We are currently sitting on close to 40 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the U.S. stockpile, a stockpile which we’re not using and which we’ve already opened to combat COVID-19 in Mexico and Canada,” Kirshnamoorthi said.
“In order to curb the spread of this virus internationally and to protect public health and our international economy, we need to get these vaccines out the door now,” he continued.
“I respectfully but strongly call on the Biden Administration to release millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses to countries hardest-hit by the spread of COVID-19, including India, Argentina, and potentially others.”
We need to release our stockpile of unused AstraZeneca vaccines now. In India alone, almost 350,000 COVID-19 cases were reported today. When people in India and elsewhere desperately need help, we can’t let vaccines sit in a warehouse, we need to get them where they’ll save lives pic.twitter.com/D3Ygtc8lzh
— Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (@CongressmanRaja) April 24, 2021
AstraZeneca’s vaccine is currently not approved in the U.S., though the company has said that it would apply for emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The U.S. agreed in March to send 4 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to Mexico and Canada.
The statement comes as the U.S. faces pressure to give away excess vaccines to countries that are lagging in their vaccination efforts. Public health experts warn that the coronavirus will not be contained until the globe is fully inoculated.
India in particular has been hit hard by the virus, and is currently in the middle of a second surge. The country has also seen a sharp increase in deaths as it scrambles to deliver oxygen to medical facilities that are housing coronavirus patients.
A hospital in New Delhi on Saturday stated that 20 coronavirus patients died in a matter of hours due to a lack of supplemental oxygen at the facility.
India recorded over 345,000 new cases on Saturday, setting a record in daily cases for the third day in a row.
The Biden administration has said that its first priority is vaccinating Americans.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Thursday that the U.S. wouldn’t lift an export ban on vaccine raw materials as India has requested, according to The Hindu.
“That campaign is well underway, and we’re doing that for a couple of reasons. Number one, we have a special responsibility to the American people,” Price said, according to the outlet. “Number two, the American people, this country has been hit harder than any other country around the world – more than 550,000 deaths, tens of millions of infections in this country alone.”
Following Krishnamoorthi’s statement, Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaDC set for jam-packed Earth Day as Biden announces Paris emissions goal Hillicon Valley: Tech companies duke it out at Senate hearing | Seven House Republicans vow to reject donations from Big Tech Lawmakers reintroduce bill to invest billions to compete with China in tech MORE (D-Pa.) retweeted the Illinois lawmaker’s post, stating that he was “absolutely right.”
“Thanks @CongressmanRaja. You are absolutely right. We should take this up as the US-India Caucus,” Khanna said, referring to both of the lawmakers’ Indian roots.
Public health professionals are also calling on the Biden administration to help India as it deals with its surge.
Ashish K. Jha, dean of Brown University School of Public Health called for the administration to release vaccine doses in an op-ed for The Washington Post on Saturday.
“Given declining rates of vaccination among Americans, they seem unlikely to ever see domestic use. We should lend them to India now,” he wrote.
Vin Gupta, an intensive care doctor and medical analyst for NBC News, also suggested the U.S. to take action on Twitter. Gupta said that the could U.S. deploy the Air Force’s Critical Care Air Transport Teams to the country.
— Dr. Vin Gupta (@VinGuptaMD) April 24, 2021
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.
Updated 10:25 p.m.