WASHINGTON — A lack of new congressional funding could jeopardize the nation’s ability to respond to future coronavirus waves, the White House warned Tuesday, even as prospects seemed to see the approval of the $15 pandemic response request. .6 billion to be small.
“We need this money,” a senior government official told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday, pointing to impending deficiencies in the ability to manufacture and widely distribute tests, therapies and vaccines. “Time is not on our side. We need this funding immediately.”
In an accompanying memorandum, the White House said it might not be able to build additional vaccine booster doses without new funding and would have to reduce its purchase of monoclonal antibody treatments by 30%. Fees for testing people without health insurance will end in weeks, potentially depriving Americans of pandemic health care. And without new funding, efforts to develop and distribute new vaccines would also be jeopardized.
“If we don’t act, we will backtrack into this battle, we will be less prepared and we will cost more lives,” the White House memo said.
The Biden administration had initially asked for $30 billion, to be revised to $22.5 billion and eventually $15.6 billion. But even with the amount halved, funding failed when Congress voted to provide $1.5 trillion in government funding through September. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the failure “heartbreaking,Blaming Senate Republicans, who insisted the new coronavirus spending comes from funds already allocated to states — a move some Democrats declined to support because it would come from states they represented.
The stalemate comes when cases of a new Omicron subvariant known as BA.2, are increasing in some countries, fueling fears of a new wave. While the number of reported cases in the United States is still declining, more than a third of sewer sampling sites have been shut down between February 27 and March 13. checked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed a rise in coronavirus rates. Experts also say it’s only a matter of time until the virus re-evolves to become more transmissible or more virulent — or both.
“It is a very smart virus”, Pfizer CEO Alberto Bourla told Yahoo Finance earlier this week:† “And the scenario that will come with another variant that might be more transmissible or might cause a more serious disease, I think is a scenario that exists. It’s a likely scenario.”
The White House will now push to pass the $15.6 billion in coronavirus funds as a standalone measure separate from a major spending bill. Politics reported on Tuesday that the government was looking for ways to pay for the new round of funding without alienating the fragile coalition that a bitterly divided Congress needs.
“We need money now,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday, “so we’re prepared for whatever comes.”