CMMB Calls on Biden Administration to Accelerate Vaccine Deliveries and Secure Commitments from Global Leaders during Pandemic Summit

CMMB urges President Biden to lead the way on vaccine equity for low- and middle-income countries during the Administration’s pandemic summit coinciding with the U.N. General Assembly.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, Sep 22, 2021 – Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB) today calls on the Biden Administration to accelerate U.S. vaccine deliveries for low-income countries and to press for commitments from global leaders to share vaccine doses more quickly. During the Administration’s pandemic summit coinciding with the U.N. General Assembly meeting, CMMB urges President Biden to lead the way to:

  1. Accelerate vaccinations in low- and middle-income countries by expediting delivery of approximately 2 billion previously committed vaccines by the U.S. and global partners.
  2. Procure approximately 3 billion additional doses for low- and middle-income countries.
  3. Strengthen country-level distribution and delivery capabilities to vaccinate 70% of the world population in the next 12 months.

“U.S. leadership can bring together the players required for success including governmental leaders, corporate leaders of multiple sectors, faith-based groups and other non-governmental players. It will take all of us to vaccinate the world,” said Mary Beth Powers, CMMB president and CEO. “President Biden said that the U.S. would serve as the vaccine arsenal for the world. As a nation, we need to make good on this promise by accelerating deliveries of previously pledged doses from the U.S. stockpile. Delays and red tape are resulting in needless deaths every day. We must immediately reallocate excess doses to COVAX to ensure that low-income countries are not left behind and that lives are saved.”

This month COVAX, the global program to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, cut its 2021 delivery by 25%—from 1.9 billion to 1.4 billion. Meanwhile, only around 3% of Africa’s population is fully vaccinated, compared with around 54% in the United States.

“Nowhere is vaccine inequity more apparent than in Africa. More than 5.7 billion doses have been administered globally, but only 2% of those have been in Africa. The U.S. needs to recommit to vaccine equity by sharing more vaccines and strengthening country-level distribution capabilities from port to patient. By January, vaccine production projections indicate there may be enough vaccines to inoculate every adult on each continent,” said Ms. Powers.

“We have not received enough vaccines to protect our healthcare workers. They are at risk every day as they do their part to save lives and we need to do everything we can to protect them,” said Batuke Walusiku-Mwewa, CMMB Country Director in Zambia. “All we need is more vaccines to distribute. Less than 1.7% of Zambia’s 17 million population has been fully vaccinated. We need vaccines and support from global leaders. We urge President Biden to help Zambia—to not leave the people of Africa behind,” said Ms. Walusiku-Mwewa.

“In South Sudan, CMMB is partnering with the Ministry of Health to roll out vaccines in hard-to-reach, remote areas of South Sudan. CMMB is also working with local leaders to educate and promote acceptance among ‘vaccine hesitant’ groups,” said Jacqueline George, CMMB Country Director in South Sudan. “The vaccines are being delivered in drips and the roll-out operations are constantly halted and restarted, often resulting in wastage of resources. With less than 1% of the population in South Sudan vaccinated, hopes for stopping the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on lives and livelihoods are quickly waning. CMMB calls for a more robust strategy coordinated by WHO/COVAX that involves the recipient countries’ inputs. We ask the U.S. Administration to also support the basic needs of the communities in South Sudan, to strengthen health systems and maintain existing safety nets during the pandemic. We are ready to do more if we can receive additional doses. We urge the U.S. to increase coordination with COVAX and low-income countries to ensure that we close equity gaps in COVID-19 vaccinations to stop the spread of the virus globally.”

“This is an all hands-on-deck moment. We request the U.S. government to make available the funding and resources for all partners to get involved and build herd immunity as soon as possible, as well as build the strategies and coalitions to avert similar pandemics in the future. The pandemic has upended the lives and livelihoods of many households, especially those on the edge in the East African Region. To address the immediate, basic needs of families and to avoid bigger shocks, Africa needs more sustainable partnerships for the good of humanity,” Ms. George said.

For questions about the information contained within this press release or about CMMB and its programs, please contact the Director of Communications, Luke Dougherty, at

About CMMB

CMMB (Catholic Medical Mission Board) provides long-term medical and development aid to communities affected by poverty and unequal access to healthcare. Focusing on women’s and children health, we deliver sustainable health services in Peru, Haiti, Kenya, South Sudan, and Zambia. For over a century, we have worked to strengthen and support communities through healthcare programs and initiatives, the placement of volunteers, and the distribution of medicines and medical supplies. CMMB has delivered over 3,000 shipments to 88 countries over the last ten years, with a total value of more than $4 billion worth of medical aid.

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