A group of Senate Republicans has introduced the “Covid-19 Vaccine Protection Act,” arguing that any future inoculation must be kept safe from Chinese “sabotage” and theft, placing blame for the pandemic squarely on Beijing.
The seven GOP lawmakers, led by Senator Rick Scott of Florida, announced the bill on Thursday, which they said is needed to prevent China “from stealing or sabotaging American Covid-19 vaccine research.”
“Communist China is responsible for the Coronavirus pandemic, and their lies and misinformation cost American lives,” Scott said in a statement. “We cannot let Communist China off the hook for this, and we absolutely cannot allow Communist China to steal or sabotage any American research efforts related to the Coronavirus vaccine.”
The act would require a “thorough national security evaluation” and clearance from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FBI and State Department, the senators said, ultimately hoping to investigate “all Chinese student visa holders” currently working on vaccine research in the US.
Mincing no words, Senator Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee) said “We will not stand idly by and watch them steal American vaccine research through spies posing as students,” insisting Beijing must not be allowed to “harm US efforts to create a vaccine.”
It’s unclear why the Chinese government would seek to “sabotage” work on an immunization, given that the country experienced its own severe coronavirus outbreak and, like the rest of the world, still lacks a vaccine. Beyond casting blame for the pandemic and fielding accusations about past intellectual property theft, the senators offered little evidence that Beijing has obstructed any research.
As hawkish American lawmakers look to keep a US-made vaccine far away from China – and its massive population of 1.4 billion – the World Health Organization (WHO) has urged the international community to do just the opposite, calling for maximum cooperation between countries working on inoculations.
“We will only halt Covid-19 through solidarity,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said late last month. “Countries, health partners, manufacturers, and the private sector must act together and ensure that the fruits of science and research can benefit everybody.”
Echoing the WHO’s call for collaboration, a number of critics also emerged on social media, arguing the senators are putting the profits of Big Pharma firms above the interests of mankind, with one asking why the US wouldn’t “openly share [its] research… for free around the world.”
People are dying. Are you out of your mind? Is profit the only thing you see, even in a global pandemic? Regardless of country, vaccine and cures should be widely researched in order to stop this disease from killing any more people.
— 🎵Sara Skinner🎵 (@saralikesowls) May 21, 2020
Why wouldn’t we not lovingly and openly share our research or vaccine for free around the world? Why would we try to withhold something that would save lives? Why wouldn’t we invite the smartest of all people from all walks of life to be a part of this process? Act with love.
— Sean Reed (@SeanRee70869364) May 21, 2020
Now do pharmaceutical companies.
— Drunk Dad (@DrunkDad7) May 21, 2020
US President Donald Trump has ratched up a rhetorical assault on Beijing and the WHO in recent months over their response to the coronavirus outbreak last December, accusing them of conspiring to “cover up” information in the early stages of the pandemic. Having frozen the WHO’s funding in April, Washington insists the agency has a pro-China bias, and more recently threatened to pull US contributions permanently if it didn’t make “substantive” – yet largely unspecified – “improvements.”
Like this story? Share it with a friend!