US diverts COVID-19 funds to secure vaccines at stalemate

WASHINGTON– The Biden administration said Wednesday that a funding crisis is forcing it to divert more than $10 billion in coronavirus relief from testing supplies and other efforts as it tries to find money. money to secure the next generation of vaccines and treatments for some high-risk Americans. .

The White House has said it has “no choice” but to reduce orders for rapid home tests that have supported a domestic manufacturing base for easy diagnostic tests. It also cuts funding for research and development of new COVID-19 vaccines and limits orders for personal protective equipment in a bid to maintain some stocks of vaccines and treatments for Americans as winter approaches. .

Even then, according to the Democratic administration, there will only be enough money available to provide treatment and vaccines for some people. He urged Congress to act to provide enough money to guarantee doses for anyone who might want or need them.

“The administration must act because Congress will not,” the White House said in a statement. “These trade-offs that we are forced to make by Congress will have serious consequences for the development of next-generation vaccines, therapies and diagnostics, domestic vaccine production capacity, PPE stockpiling and procurement of tests and test supplies for federal graduates. and community health centers.

The White House said the “unacceptable” compromises were due to congressional inaction.

It wasn’t immediately clear what vaccines and treatments the administration was seeking with the limited funding — including whether the administration was placing orders for potential multivalent vaccines that would both protect against the original COVID-19 strain. and would offer targeted protection against certain variants. The White House also did not specify how many vaccine doses would be acquired, citing contractual requirements for the lack of clarity.

The administration said Wednesday’s moves would shift $5 billion to purchase COVID-19 vaccine doses for the fall, $4.9 billion for 10 million Paxlovid oral antiviral treatments and $300 million for the purchase of additional monoclonal antibody treatments.

The Biden administration has been warning for months of the potential for rationing and other tough trade-offs if Congress doesn’t act to provide additional funding, saying it would cost lives as people’s immunity to doses of recall or against a previous infection decreases.

In March, lawmakers appeared close to a deal for $10 billion of the $22.5 billion sought by President Joe Biden, but negotiations fell through over Biden’s plans to end health restrictions. pandemic-related issues at U.S. borders that have dramatically reduced migration. Although that decision was blocked by a federal judge, lawmakers don’t seem any closer to reaching an agreement.

The White House has said that if it doesn’t act quickly to secure vaccines, other nations will lock themselves in before the United States. It would reverse the trend that the United States is among the first nations, if not the first nation. , to bring life-saving COVID-19 vaccines and treatments like Paxlovid to market.

ABC News

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