Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today asked top Operation Warp Speed officials about recent reports that earlier this year the Trump Administration declined to buy additional doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine when given the opportunity.
The letter from Wyden, Merkley and 16 other senators to Dr. Moncef Slaoui, Chief Advisor of Operation Warp Speed, and General Gustave Perna, Chief Operating Office of Operation Warp Speed, expresses concern about the Trump Administration’s lack of planning and transparency, and presses for more information about the Administration’s preparations to purchase vaccines.
“We write to you about reports the United States Government declined to exercise its option to purchase additional doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine earlier this year,” the senators wrote. “We are concerned the failure to secure an adequate supply of vaccines will needlessly prolong the COVID-19 pandemic in this country, causing further loss of life and economic devastation. We fear this is yet another instance in which the Trump Administration’s failure to develop a comprehensive national vaccines plan in a timely manner could jeopardize efforts to get people vaccinated and ultimately end this pandemic.”
The letter continued, “To earn public confidence, demonstrate accountability, and ensure the incoming Biden Administration has the information it needs to hit the ground running in getting our COVID-19 response on track, the Administration must be more transparent about its preparations, as well as how much funding is available, and is needed, to purchase, distribute, and administer sufficient vaccine to end this pandemic.”
The letter led by Wyden, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee was signed by Merkley as well as Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Gary Peters (D-MI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Brian Schatz (D-HI).
The entire letter is here.
A web version of this release is here.