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White House: Congress Must Act Soon to Replenish COVID Funds

It is expected that the United States will soon run out of money to maintain COVID-19 testing supplies and to ensure that uninsured Americans continue to get free treatment for the virus unless Congress acts quickly to authorize additional funds, according to the White House.

The administration claims that about a year after the approval of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the federal government has spent virtually all of the money set up specifically for the COVID-19 response effort. It is critically required that Congress provide more funds to purchase antibody therapies, prophylactic tablets for the immunocompromised, and to support community testing stations, according to government authorities.

As COVID-19 deputy coordinator Natalie Quillian explained: “From our perspective, the financial account is depleted.” “We’re in discussions with legislators about how to acquire the funds, but it’s critical that we get it quickly.” It is possible that some of the ramifications may be realized later this month.

According to White House officials, they were planning to seek $30 billion for the viral response in the coming months, but they have now reduced that figure to $22.5 billion in a formal proposal submitted earlier this week that they say addresses just the most pressing requirements. It is being submitted in conjunction with a $10 billion request to offer assistance to Ukraine and its people after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This is an urgent need, and this is what is at risk in our battle against COVID,” press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on Friday. “This is an urgent request,” she said.

The White House has warned that COVID-19 testing manufacturers would begin to reduce the manufacturing of at-home fast tests this month unless the federal government enters contracts to purchase more COVID-19 tests. Officials warn that if there is another rise in the number of cases, there might be a shortage of supplies.

They also said that if Congress does not grant more funding, the Health Resources and Services Administration may be obliged to begin processing claims for COVID-19 therapy for uninsured persons as early as this month. Furthermore, the supply of monoclonal antibodies available from the United States government will run out in May. In addition, AstraZeneca’s prophylactic tablet, which may prevent severe disease in immunocompromised persons, would run out of supplies in the month of July. By September, the United States would have exhausted its supply of oral anti-viral medication.

“Given how expensive COVID has been, with so many of our fellow Americans injured or dead, and our everyday lives interrupted, we just cannot afford to wait to spend now and keep people safe,” Psaki said. “We must invest now and keep people protected.”

In addition, cash is requested to support vaccine procurement in the United States as well as worldwide vaccination distribution.

If the Pfizer vaccine for children under the age of five is authorized in the next weeks, the United States will have enough injections to meet demand. However, if authorities decide to make it a three-dose vaccination schedule, the administration will be forced to spend more money in order to purchase extra doses. Similarly, if authorities find that children aged 5-11 should have booster doses, the situation would be the same.

It was stressed by the White House that the federal government must sign contracts for pharmaceuticals and vaccinations months before they are required and that Congress must act quickly to avoid any holes in the supply chain.

Biden’s proposal has prompted some Republicans to cry sticker shock, and they have called on the administration to repurpose other disaster relief funds that have not yet been used.

When questioned about the administration’s $22.5 billion proposals, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said, “Oh no, that’s too much.” Shelby is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee. The second goal is to determine how much money is still available from previously authorized COVID-19 alleviation measures that haven’t been used yet, according to the official.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and 35 other Republican senators wrote to Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday, expressing their want to have “a thorough accounting” of how the government has spent money it has already received before backing further funding.

According to the White House, the administration is open to exploring the possibility of reallocating already-approved but unspent funds, but it emphasizes that the top priority must be to continue meeting needs.

In addition, the administration will submit a request for extra financing to Congress in the coming weeks.

“We are being reasonable in our urgent request for the time being, but we are well aware that more will be required,” Quillian said.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has been working to make COVID-19 treatments and vaccinations available at no cost. Biden started mailing up to eight free virus tests to houses in the United States earlier this year.

Quillian said that the administration is open to the possibility of ultimately moving the expense of injections and tablets to insurance, similar to how other diseases are treated, especially when the virus begins to wane. Quillian did not elaborate. However, she said that the White House feels that the COVID-19 recovery is still too fragile to make the necessary changes at this time and that the United States must bear the financial burden.

“We can’t afford to lose our advantage,” Quillian said.

According to a Department of Health and Human Services table obtained by The Associated Press, the COVID-19 relief bills enacted since the pandemic began have included $370 billion for public health programs, including vaccines and other medical supplies, testing, research, and reimbursement of providers.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, $355 billion of that total is currently being spent, has been spent, or has been committed to contracts.

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