Biden administration officials say that although they have enough mRNA vaccines ready for the current wave of booster dosing, they lack the funds for more supply of booster shots that may soon be needed, Politico reported on Wednesday.
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation on Tuesday that people over 50 receive another booster dose was expected, the possibility of an additional coronavirus booster for all adults could become problematic.
Dawn O'Connell, the Department of Health and Human Services' assistant secretary for preparedness and response, told a press conference that "what worries us is … if a different variant comes up and we need a variant-specific boost in a few months. That would be quite a bit more expensive, and we don't have those doses on hand nor do we currently have the funding to cover those doses," Politico reported.
White House spokesperson Kate Bedingfield reiterated the point, telling reporters that if "the full population requires a fourth shot, we're going to need additional funding."
The BA.2 strain, which has been currently driving the surge of coronavirus cases in Europe, is more transmissible than omicron. Although cases in the United States are still decreasing, along with deaths and hospitalizations rates, White House officials and public health experts agree that the government must be prepared if the situation in the U.S. reverses course.
Biden administration officials want Congress to support their $22.5 billion request for more coronavirus aid in order to increase vaccine, treatment, and testing supplies should another wave hit the U.S.
The officials are starting to publicly turn up the pressure on lawmakers, who left new pandemic funding out of their omnibus spending package and have not approved a way to provide new spending, as Republicans demand accounts of how earlier funds were spent, Politico reported.
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and COVID-19 Chief Science Officer David Kessler emphasized in a New York Times op-ed on Tuesday that the timing is crucial, as "manufacturers cannot turn the production of vaccines, treatments, and tests on and off like a switch."
They stressed that "purchases have to be made months in advance if we want supplies to be available when we need them."
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