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Sens. Ben Sasse and Lindsey Graham during a committee hearing in January 2019. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) on Thursday praised the Biden administration's decision to purchase 500 million doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to share with countries around the world, calling the decision the "right move."

The big picture: Their statements represent a rare moment of praise of Biden by Republicans.

  • Sasse has advocated for the U.S. to distribute 1 billion vaccines worldwide by Thanksgiving, and in a previous statement called the Biden administration's global vaccination plans "timid."

What they're saying: “Health diplomacy is a smart investment and buying these vaccines is the right move. America should have an aggressive strategy to vaccinate a billion people around the world this year," Sasse said in a statement.

  • "America should administer these vaccines directly in order to counter the Chinese Communist Party's strategy of using the pandemic to gain the upper hand."
  • "We should move quickly to share these life-saving shots with friends in Asia and across the developing world with a simple message: Uncle Sam, not Chairman Xi, cares about your health.”

Graham said in a statement that the "roughly $3.5 billion required to purchase and distribute 500 million doses of vaccine will help prevent a reemergence of the COVID-19 virus which makes America and the world safer."

  • “I support the effort of the Biden Administration to donate vaccines to at-risk populations throughout the world and hope other countries will follow America’s lead. I believe this to be a good investment by the American taxpayer.
  • “Again, I do hope other nations will contribute their fair share. The sooner we have vaccines available to the world, the better," Graham added.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with Graham's statement.

Go deeper

Sep 17, 2021 - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Sep 17, 2021 - Health

Key FDA committee takes on the big booster question

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A key FDA advisory committee is meeting today to discuss Pfizer's proposal for a COVID vaccine booster — but it will set the stage for the entire booster debate.

The big question: Not only whether experts believe there’s enough evidence to support boosters, but also whether they believe additional shots should be made available for everyone or limited to older Americans and the immunocompromised.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19 — Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.