Why Mitt Romney wants the U.S. to ship more vaccines to other countries

Utah Republican worries about stopping COVID-19 and about the influence of Russia and China.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Moderna doses are ready to go alongside Pfizer doses for 12-15 year olds beginning to get their vaccinations against COVID-19 at the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Sen. Mitt Romney wants the Biden administration to send more doses to other countries.

The United States should greatly boost the amount of COVID-19 vaccine it sends to vulnerable countries, says Sen. Mitt Romney, and it should send those doses as soon as it can.

In a letter Thursday to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Utah Republican argues such vaccine diplomacy would not only “increase the resiliency of our neighbors, allies and partners,” but it also would counteract pushes by China and Russia, which are sharing their own less-effective vaccines.

“I was dismayed to learn that while China and Russia are pushing out vaccines to countries in desperate need, the U.S. is still in the stage of planning and prioritizing,” Romney states, “and has yet to communicate in any detail to countries around the world when they can expect doses.”

The Biden administration recently announced that it would provide an additional 20 million doses to other countries by the end of June. That would increase the vaccines the U.S. would send elsewhere to 80 million doses. This comes as the shots are relatively easy to get in the United States and available to everyone age 12 and older.

Romney calls the 80 million doses “far too few to effectively stymie the pandemic and prevent new variants from reaching our shores.”

The senator also highlights the potential diplomatic effect, noting China is offering vaccines to Honduras in exchange for that Central American country breaking ties with Taiwan. If that happens, Romney adds, “the U.S. will have failed in its own strategic objectives regarding Taiwan, all because we were not successfully using our resources to aid the world in the fight against COVID.”