Biden administration officials on Tuesday warned again that the federal government lacks funds to respond to another surge in Covid-19, should one occur this fall and winter.
The White House has requested billions in new funding to prepare for another surge, but Congress has failed to act on the request, with some lawmakers saying they have provided enough money, which could be repurposed from other programs.
Speaking at a press briefing, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha noted that the lack of funding has already had an effect. “We had to shut down COVIDTests.gov, a wildly popular program, where two-thirds of American households had ordered tests — shut it down because we do not have enough tests in our stockpile. We do not have the ability to continue,” Jha said. “Congress has not stepped up.”
New vaccine campaign: Meanwhile, health officials highlighted the new Covid-19 vaccine, which targets the latest viral variants and will become widely available soon. “By the end of this week, over 90 percent of Americans will live within five miles of these new updated vaccines,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said at the briefing.
White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said that Covid booster shots would likely become an regular thing. “It is becoming increasingly clear that, looking forward with the COVID-19 pandemic, in the absence of a dramatically different variant, we likely are moving towards a path of vaccination cadence similar to that of the annual influenza vaccine, with annual updated COVID-19 shots matched to the currently circulating strains for most of the population,” Fauci said at the briefing.