BURLINGTON, May 14 – In response to Trump administration officials' evasiveness under questioning by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) hearing earlier this week, Sanders sent a follow-up letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, demanding that an eventual vaccine developed for COVID-19 be made free of charge for everyone, regardless of income.
"Unfortunately," noted Sanders, administration officials "were unable to respond with a simple yes or no answer" to a question he repeatedly posed during the hearing. "When a COVID-19 vaccine is approved, will it be made available to everyone in America without cost?"
"With over 80,000 COVID-19 deaths already, and more to come in the future," Sanders wrote, providing the vaccine to all without cost "is not only the right thing to do from a moral perspective, it is also good public policy."
"Today, I am writing to ask you the same question that I asked at the HELP hearing: Will the Administration guarantee that once a vaccine is approved by the FDA it will be made available to everyone in this country free of charge?" he asked.
"It would be morally unacceptable to allow the pharmaceutical industry to use this pandemic as another opportunity to make huge profits on the backs of people who can least afford it," Sanders added. "The American people should not be forced to pay obscene prices for a vaccine that is needed to keep them alive."
"I look forward to hearing from you on this vitally important issue as soon as possible," Sanders concluded.