Hit Hard, Hit Fast, Hit Globally
For the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened our health, halted our economy, and disrupted our lives in previously unimaginable ways. Now, as vaccine rollout begins in the United States and Europe, we face a new challenge. While people in wealthy countries will likely be vaccinated before the end of this year, others around the world won’t have access to any vaccines until 2023.
Unequal access to vaccines threatens lives everywhere. The fewer people vaccinated globally, the more likely vaccine-resistant variants will emerge. If the COVID-19 and HIV pandemics have taught us anything, it is that viruses know no borders, and any successful public health response requires a global solution. Already, we’ve seen vaccine resistant variants spread around the world, including to cities in the United States. The more we allow these variants to spread, the more we risk undoing our progress domestically and globally, and the more people will die.
There is a better way.
The United States can avert this crisis by building public manufacturing for the most effective vaccine candidates, ensuring quicker and more comprehensive immunization while paving the way for epidemic control.
This report details how the United States can build enough vaccine manufacturing capacity to vaccinate the entire world for less than we spend on the COVID-19 response daily. Importantly, as a primary funder of mRNA vaccine research and an owner of critical intellectual property protecting these vaccines, the United States can fast-track this process right now. By building government owned manufacturing plants and leveraging its position as a co-inventor of an mRNA vaccine, the U.S. government can end this pandemic once and for all.
Taxpayer funded research can and should be used to protect American lives and public health. Amid a global pandemic, the only way we can ensure our safety and the reopening of our economy is through global vaccination. Critically, government owned facilities ensure that we have enough manufacturing capacity in the future to combat future pandemics and variants with mRNA vaccines as they arise.
Think this sounds radical? It’s not. The Department of Energy and Department of Defense use similar models to ensure a robust energy supply and weapons base. National emergencies require bold solutions. It’s time we put those tools to use for the good of public health before we regret it.