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Letter of Commissioner Sola to President Joe Biden

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Commissioner Louis E. Sola wrote to President Joe Biden on August 9, 2021 regarding COVID-19 Vaccinations and cruise travel.

The text of the letter is below.

Dear President Biden:

Thank you for your leadership in battling the COVID-19 pandemic, which is the health scourge of our lifetime. Your tireless efforts have ensured that every American who wishes to receive a COVID vaccination can do so. More importantly the Administration is doing everything it can to encourage all in our country to take advantage of this opportunity.

Successes in generating a ready supply of vaccine has greatly exceeded current demand in the United States. There are reports of hundreds of thousands of doses of vaccine sitting fallow in warehouses having reached or about to reach their expiration date. While these lifesaving serums sit unused, our Caribbean, Central, and South American neighbors continue to seek vaccine assistance. In my capacity as fact finding officer examining the impact of COVID on the cruise industry I have received numerous recent communications from Caribbean and Latin American nations lamenting that in excess of 150,000 doses of donated vaccine positioned in the U.S., with a rapidly approaching expiration dates, have been prohibited by the Department of Health and Human Services from being shipped offshore and administered by an aid organization to their citizens.

While I do not profess to understand the diplomatic, legal, and medical nuances of the situation, seemingly common sense tells us that such a situation is, at a minimum, wasteful. Further, it would seem to contradict statements by many that viruses do not respect borders.

As a Nation that enjoys a surplus of vaccine, we should work to reduce the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in our own hemisphere. It is in our interest to work to stop the arrival of COVID variants from reaching our shores. Sharing unused, and near expiring, surplus vaccines would help achieve that objective.

I thank you for allowing me to bring this very important matter to your attention.

Respectfully, Louis E. Sola