United States Senate Majority Leader Charles “Chuck” Schumer (D-NY) has asked US President Joe Biden to commit 5 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to the Philippines, citing, among others, the “immeasurable contributions” of Filipino-American frontline healthcare workers in the battle against the pandemic.
Schumer made this call in a June 1, 2021 letter to Biden following the White House announcement that the Philippines will be among the countries to receive its share from the initial batch of 25 million vaccine doses that the US will be sending globally through the COVAX facility.
On May 31, 2021, the Biden administration announced that the United States will release a total of 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to support the global vaccination program that is key to ending the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, the White House revised its commitment by adding 20 million more doses that will include American-made vaccines Pfizer BioNtech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson jabs, bringing the total to 80 million vaccine doses.
“I urge you to commit at least 5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the Republic of the Philippines as part of the United States’ commitment to send 80 million of such doses to foreign nations over the next several months. The United States has a long, intertwined history with the Philippines, the nation is a key American ally, and Filipino Americans have made immeasurable contributions to New York and to American society – not the least of which includes selfless and professional efforts as frontline healthcare workers throughout Covid-19,” Schumer said in his letter to the US president.
Citing government data, Schumer said nearly a third of the nurses who’ve died of COVID-19 in the US are Filipino, even though Filipino nurses make up just 4% of the nursing population nationwide.
“The U.S. can honor the service and sacrifice of these heroes by providing the urgently needed 5 million life-saving doses as quickly as possible,” he said.
The Democratic majority leader from New York noted that the Philippines has suffered over 1.2 million cases of COVID-19 and 21,000 deaths as the nation in recent weeks has seen a “worrisome uptick” in cases towards the end of May 2021.
In order to combat the rising number of cases in the Philippines, Schumer told Biden that the Philippines “needs assistance in securing more vaccines to protect its population”.
The Senate leader also noted that while the AstraZeneca vaccine is not authorized for use domestically in the United States, other nations such as the Philippines have approved its emergency use.
In supporting Biden’s decision to donate the US stockpile of AstraZeneca vaccine doses globally, the senator maintained that sending these surplus vaccines abroad would not diminish the ability of the American government to vaccinate its own population as they have more than enough Food and Drug Administration-authorized vaccines on hand made by other manufacturers.
“As a key ally in this region, it is imperative that the United States support the Philippines by committing at least 5 million doses of vaccines to the nation. Filipino healthcare workers have long been on the frontlines of America’s hospitals and emergency rooms. Indeed throughout the pandemic Filipino American nurses and doctors put themselves in harm’s way to save lives,” Schumer explained.