Open Letter to the President of the United States on the Need for U.S. Leadership in Global Vaccinations

Tuesday, May 11, 2021 - 12:00pm

Dear Mr. President:

We stand as a nation in a moment of great consequence. While the United States seems to be gaining control of the pandemic, our allies in Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa face increasingly deadly outbreaks that threaten to overwhelm their healthcare systems. Aid and assistance to people in need has been a hallmark of U.S. foreign policy for well over a century. The world has come to rely upon U.S. leadership at times of great strife. The ability of our government, working in tandem with the private sector, to deliver innovative solu- tions that save lives and restore peace and stability is the very foundation of U.S. soft power. Today we have a generational opportunity to mobilize vaccine efforts around the world. Our friends and allies will not forget easily if we sit on surplus stockpiles of the most proven vaccines as their citizens suffer and die.

Your Administration has committed $4 billion to Covax, the multilateral effort headed by the WHO to get vac- cines into the arms of people in disadvantaged nations. You have also announced your intention to donate 60 million doses of our supply of Astra Zeneca vaccine for global deployment. While these actions are a laudable and necessary start, by themselves they are far too small in scale to turn the tide of the global pandemic. We must do more. This is not only a matter of geopolitics. With the virus teeming unchecked in places like India, the Philippines, and elsewhere, it becomes increasingly possible for dangerous variants to evolve that are resis- tant to the existing vaccines. Such variants will know no borders.

The U.S. must act now to leverage rapidly increasing U.S. domestic vaccine production, export ever-larger volumes of our surplus supplies, and go to work on the massive technical and logistical challenges to vaccine development on a global scale. U.S. support for the Intellectual Property waiver being promoted by the WTO would make little difference and could do harm. It does not consider the proper materials, equipment, training, and infrastructure necessary to manufacture the vaccine safely and successfully (in addition to being a poten- tial disincentive for future innovation).

We urge you, Mr. President, to demonstrate decisive U.S. leadership now as a critical matter of U.S. foreign policy, humanitarian relief, and global human health.

Sincerely,

Maurice R. Greenberg
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
C.V. Starr & Co., Inc.

Ambassador Carla A. Hills
Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Hills & Company
Former United States Trade Representative

Suzanne Clark
President & Chief Executive Officer
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Dr. John J. Hamre
President & Chief Executive Officer
Langone Chair in American Leadership Center for Strategic & International Studies

Ken Langone
Co-Founder of The Home Depot, Inc.
Chairman of the Board of Trustees
NYU Langone Health

Ambassador John D. Negroponte
First Director of National Intelligence
Former Deputy Secretary of State

Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath
President & Chief Executive Officer
Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)

Dimitri Simes
President & Chief Executive Officer
Center for the National Interest
Publisher, The National Interest

Secretary William Cohen
Former Secretary of the United States Department of Defense

Ambassador John F. Maisto
Former Ambassador to Venezuela
Former Ambassador to Nicaragua
Former Ambassador to the Organization of American States

Adam S. Posen
President
Peterson Institute for International Economics

Ambassador Mark Green
Former USAID Administrator
Former Ambassador to Tanzania
Former Member of Congress

Noel V. Lateef
President & Chief Executive Officer
Foreign Policy Association

Alexander Feldman
Chairman, President, & Chief Executive Officer
U.S. ASEAN Business Council

Hank Hendrickson
Executive Director
U.S. Philippines Society

Dr. Robert Goldberg
Co-Founder and Vice President
Center for Medicine in the Public Interest