The White House Covid-19 Response Team and Public Health Officials have warned of the dire consequences that the country will face in the fight against the pandemic if Congress fails to provide more funds.
At a news conference, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said the continued execution of the President’s Covid-19 Preparedness Plan requires continued support from Congress. “And at this stage, our resources are depleted,” he told reporters.
He said the fund Congress established to reimburse doctors and other medical providers for Covid care for Americans — in particular, the uninsured — is no longer accepting new claims from providers for testing or for treatment services.
The fund will also have to stop accepting new claims for vaccination services by April 5. This means doctors, nurses, pharmacists, labs, and other healthcare providers will no longer get payments through the fund for providing these pandemic services to the public.
The Biden administration had to cancel a purchase of additional supplies of monoclonal antibody treatments which had been planned for this week. The current supply of these therapeutics is projected to start to run out by late May, according to the HHS Secretary.
Monday, the supply of monoclonal antibody treatments that were being distributed to every state was cut by 35 percent.
“We’re also having to scale back our plans to purchase more doses of AstraZeneca’s preventive therapies for Americans who are immunocompromised. This increases the risk of having an insufficient supply of this treatment by the fall of this year,” Becerra said.
The government will not be able to purchase a proposed 600,000 doses of treatment courses of a new monoclonal antibody unless it gets the funding requested of the Congress.
Chief Medical Advisor to the President Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “If we maintain our preparedness, an increase in cases does not need to be a cause for alarm like it once was. Unfortunately, because of congressional action, we’re at risk of not having these tools readily available.”
“For months, we’ve made clear to Congress, on a bipartisan basis, that funding for core Covid medical supplies — including vaccines, treatments, and tests — was running out. Congress has failed to act. They failed to provide the necessary funding, and we’re already seeing the consequences,” he told reporters.
CDC director Dr.Rochelle Walensky said the BA.2 sublineage of the Omicron variant has been in the United States for about the past two months, and it has increased transmission in comparison to the related BA.1 Omicron variant that circulated in the U.S. this winter.
CDC estimates that BA.2 represents about 35 percent of circulating variants nationally.
“As we’re learning from our colleagues in Europe, Asia, and South Africa, where BA.2 has resulted in varied peaks of cases, there’s no evidence that BA.2 variant results in more severe disease, nor does it appear to be more likely to evade our immune protection,” the CDC chief said.
The United States is currently passing through a lean patch of the pandemic.
With 40,987 new cases of coronavirus infection recorded from across the country on Wednesday, the national total increased to 79,845,085, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.
With 1,620 deaths reported on the same day, total U.S. Covid casualties reached 974,834.
5,608 Covid casualties were reported from across the globe on Wednesday, taking the number of lives lost due to Covid in the world to 6,105,013.
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