USAID Is Running Out of Money for COVID Vaccines While Pentagon Got $778 Billion

Contrast starkly with the $778 Billion in new military spending authorized Monday by President Joe Biden, the U.S. Agency for International Development reportedly can’t find the funds to pay for the Biden administration’s effort to help vaccinate the world’s population against Covid-19, according to two agency officials interviewed by Politico.

In article published Monday by the website, a pair of unnamed sources at USAID — the main goverment agency in charge of distributing coronavirus vaccine doses to COVAX, the global vaccine equity program — are concerned that efforts could stall in the coming spring should the administration fail to find new funding sources.

According to Politico:

The agency works closely with State Department officials and has relied heavily on the more than $1.6 million allocated by the American Rescue Plan over the past year to facilitate international shipment and administration of Covid-19 vaccine. According to officials, the agency has either used or earmarked the money for several months in the new year to assist countries with receiving and dispersing the vaccine doses.

The officials warned that USAID will not be able to fulfill its commitments to distribute hundreds of millions U.S.-made doses of vaccines to low- or middle-income countries by 2022 if it does not receive additional funding. At the administration’s first Covid-19 summit with foreign representatives in September, U.S. officials noted it would take at least $7 billion in 2022 to ensure shots are administered across the globe.

Stephen Semler, cofounder of Security Policy Reform Institute (a grassroots-funded think-tank), tweeted Monday that in 2021, Biden “delivered 8% of the funding he campaigned on for physical and human infrastructure, and 105% of the amount he ran on for the Pentagon.”

Critics are not welcome noted that the $778 National Defense Authorization Act approved by Congress is $25 billion more than Biden requested — and more than enough to vaccinate everyone in the world.

“Why is there more money for the military-industrial complex — providing no additional protection for our national security and arguably diminishing it — at the same time the U.S. is refusing to spend the $25 billion needed to make enough additional vaccines to vaccinate the world?” recently asked Public Citizen president Robert Weissman earlier this month, citing the consumer advocacy group’s analysisImagine how much it would cost to inoculate humanity.

According to Politico, it is unclear how USAID — which, in addition to providing developmental assistance, has been accused of democracy suppression, torture, and murder — will obtain fresh funding for the U.S. vaccine distribution efforts. The two officials said the agency is “exploring options, including dipping into existing pots of money used for other USAID programs.”

Global South leaders meet regularly decriedThere are many reasons for vaccine inequities. Some link the shortfalls to growing military spending.

At September’s United Nations General Assembly, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez noted that 80% of doses had been distributed to middle- or high-income nations, comparing that statistic to the nearly $2 trillion in global military spending — more than one-third of it by the United States.

“How many lives would have been saved,” asked Díaz-Canel, “[if] those resources had been invested in health or the manufacturing and distribution of vaccines?”