Durbin: America Must Lead Efforts to Address Global Vaccine Shortage

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) spoke about how helping the global COVID-19 vaccine effort will ultimately help America stem the pandemic at home.  In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin praised the Biden Administration for ramping up production and distribution of vaccines in the United States, noting that weekly vaccine shipments to Illinois have nearly doubled since President Biden took office.  He also shared concerns about coronavirus variants and warned that if we do not stamp out the virus globally, then we will continue to face risks within our own borders. 

“To put this pandemic really behind us and to bury it in history, we need to lend a hand to the many poor nations that have yet to receive a single dose of [the] vaccine. The inequities are stark. Ten countries have accounted for 75 percent of total vaccinations administered worldwide while approximately 100 countries have yet to administer any vaccine dosage,” Durbin said. “Closing this gap is not only the right and moral thing to do, it's the safest and smartest thing to do to stop the threat COVID and its increasingly contagious variants pose to us all.”

“As I said at the outset: viruses don’t recognize borders.  Crushing the virus in other countries is a strategic investment in our own national safety and security. President Biden understands this. He’s serious about addressing the virus first in America, then around the world,” Durbin continued.  

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.

Last year, the Senate unanimously passed a Durbin-authored resolution encouraging U.S. engagement with the international community on the COVID-19 response to research, develop, and distribute vaccines and therapeutics.  He also introduced legislation with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and U.S. Representative Chuy Garcia (D-IL-04) to require the Department of Treasury to support the release of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Special Drawing Rights -- unique foreign exchange reserves that can be used by poorer nations to help buy vaccines and weather the economic fallout from the pandemic.  Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently announced support for such action.