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The United States sees a risk of cutting COVID supplies without more money

WASHINGTON – The White House is planning “terrible” contingencies, which could include rationing vaccine supplies and treatments this fall if Congress does not approve more money to fight COVID-19.

In public commentary and private meetings on Capitol Hill, Dr. Ashish Ja, coronavirus coordinator at the White House, paints a dark picture in which the United States may be forced to back down much of the progress made against the coronavirus over the past two years and even more. -Vulnerable could face supply shortages.

Biden officials have been warning for weeks that the country has spent almost all the money on the $ 1.9 trillion US bailout plan, which was directly dedicated to the COVID-19 response.

There is little money left and the administration is facing critical decisions on how to spend it. This means difficult decisions, such as weighing whether to use it to provide the next generation of vaccines to protect the most at-risk populations, or to prioritize the provision of highly effective therapies that drastically reduce the risk of serious illness and death.

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That decision could be made next week, according to the administration, as the White House faces immediate deadlines to begin ordering vaccines and treatments before other nations get ahead of the United States in accessing supplies.

Ja warned that without more money, vaccines would be harder to find, tests would again be scarce, and therapeutic tools to help the country overcome the current micron jump in cases without a commensurate increase in deaths could be sold abroad before Americans have access to them.

“I think we will see a lot of unnecessary loss of life if that happens,” Ja said last week. “But we’re looking at all the scenarios and planning all of them.”

He said the administration “is getting much more involved in the scenario planning business to make sure we know what lies ahead, so we can plan for it and obviously also present it to Congress.”

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Ja, who declined to give a specific estimate of the potential loss of life, became the face of the Biden administration’s efforts to persuade Congress to approve an additional $ 22.5 billion to respond to COVID-19.

“The scenarios we are planning are for things like this, if Congress does not give us money and we do not have adequate vaccines,” Ja told the AP in an interview on May 12. “We are running out of therapy. We don’t have enough tests. What might things look like? This is obviously a very difficult situation. “

Local home production is already slowing and workers are being laid off. In the coming weeks, Ja said, manufacturers will sell out equipment and “get out of this business,” leaving the United States once again dependent on overseas suppliers for rapid testing.

Meanwhile, drug manufacturers and the Food and Drug Administration are working to evaluate the next generation of vaccines, potentially including those that target the dominant omicron strain. But preparing them before the projected jump in the fall means placing orders now, as it takes two to three months to produce.

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Ja said this week that the United States has not yet begun talks with drug manufacturers due to lack of money.

“We had some very preliminary talks with the manufacturers,” he said. “But negotiations on it have not yet begun, in part because we are waiting for resources.” He added: “The truth is that other countries are in talks with producers and are starting to make progress in their negotiations.

The United States, he said, does not have enough money to buy additional booster vaccines for anyone who wants one. Instead, supplies of these vaccines can be limited to the most vulnerable – not unlike the chaotic early days of the COVID-10 vaccine.

“Without additional funding from Congress, we will not be able to buy enough vaccines for every American who wants to, once these new generations of vaccines are released in the fall and winter,” he said.

And while the United States has amassed a stockpile of the antiviral pill Paxlovid, which is widely effective in reducing serious illness and death, its money is running out to buy new doses – or other, even more effective therapies that are in the final stages of development.

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“If we don’t get more resources from Congress, what we’ll find in the fall and winter is that we’ll find a time when Americans can look around and see their friends in other countries – Europe and Canada – with “access to these treatments that Americans will not have,” Ja said.

Congress’s deal for a reduced $ 10 billion COVID-19 response package collapsed in March over plans by the Biden administration to lift virus-related restrictions on migration across U.S. borders. But a federal judge on Friday postponed the plan just days before it went into effect on Monday.

There is no guarantee of swift action on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers – especially Republicans – have begun to watch out for deficit spending. On Thursday, a $ 40 billion measure to help restaurants struggling during the pandemic failed on that basis. GOP lawmakers also objected to additional funding for the global pandemic response, calling for any new funding to respond to the virus to come from unspent $ 1.9 trillion in economic aid in the rescue plan.

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The administration is preparing to blame the deputies if this fall has severe consequences due to lack of money. However, this could be dangerous for Biden, who is struggling to keep his promise to voters to gain control of the pandemic.

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

The United States sees a risk of cutting COVID supplies without more money

Source link The United States sees a risk of cutting COVID supplies without more money

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