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The Case for U.S. Investment in Global COVID-19 Vaccinations: “No One Is Safe Until Everyone Is Safe”

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Executive Summary

  • Since the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, the total damage to the United States economy has been significant - at its height nearly $1 trillion in United States GDP contraction, 23 million jobs lost, and significant business disruptions and closures.

  • The first surge (Spring 2020) delivered a strong economic shock, producing high unemployment and immediate economic contraction. Subsequent spikes in cases and hospitalizations have led to a highly disruptive cycle of opening and shutting down the economy.

  • The United States government has spent an estimated $6 trillion through legislative and executive actions to develop vaccines, purchase protective equipment, bolster industries hit hard by COVID, and provide financial assistance to Americans who lost their jobs.

  • While the United States has accelerated its vaccination efforts, the threat of COVID variants jeopardize these gains,which makes achieving global herd immunity as quickly as possible a national priority.

  • International efforts to acquire vaccines for low-to-medium-income countries are lagging with the World Health Organization's coordinated Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) estimating a $19 billion funding gap.

  • Acquiring vaccines is not sufficient to counter risks of COVID variants ---transporting, delivering, and administering vaccines are key to preventing new 'hot beds' for variants and halting the spread of current strains.

  • A CARE Report estimates that the total cost of vaccine administration will be five times the cost of vaccine purchases, translating to an estimated $190 billion to achieve global herd immunity.

  • Using a GDP insurance model and the OECD-DAC recommended calculation, the U.S. fair share of that cost is between $15-26B.

  • Providing additional funding for global vaccinations will enable the United States to fully capitalize on its national investment in vaccines and transform COVID from pandemic to manageable endemic.

  • Conversely, a recent study found if advanced economies are fully vaccinated but the current uncoordinated approach to global vaccine distribution continues, the world risks a global GDP loss of as much as $9.2 trillion in 2021 alone.

  • Up to 49% of these GDP losses will be borne by advanced economies regardless of their own vaccination rates. According to several recent studies, the cost of not achieving global vaccine equity could damage the U.S. economy to the tune of $207B -$671B.

  • No one is safe until everyone is safe. Without an initial United States commitment of $15-$26 billion over the next 2-3 years (2021-2023) to support global vaccine distribution and ongoing support in the outyears, the United States investment in vaccines and efforts to reopen the economy could be jeopardized.