US President Joe Biden receives a second coranavirus disease (COVID-19) booster shot after delivering remarks on COVID-19 in the United States Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium. Eisenhower at the White House in Washington, USA, on March 30, 2022.
Kevin Lamarques | Reuters
President Joe Biden warned Wednesday that the US will not have enough Covid vaccine shots this fall to ensure free and easy access for all Americans if Congress does not approve the $22.5 billion in additional funding the administration has requested.
Biden said the US has enough supply to ensure that people eligible for the fourth injection have access to them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week recommended an extra dose of Pfizer or Moderna for people over 50, as well as certain younger people who have compromised immune systems.
Biden, 79, received his fourth dose on live television after his comments.
As the country enters a new phase of its vaccination drive, the president called on Congress to act to ensure the US has the resources it needs if another wave of infection strikes.
“Americans are back to living their lives,” Biden said. “We can’t give that up. Congress, please act. You have to act immediately. The consequences of inaction are serious, they will only grow over time.”
New infections and hospitalizations have plummeted by more than 90% since the peak of the winter wave of omicrons in January. However, the decline in infections has slowed and stalled in recent days as a more contagious omicron sub-variant, BA.2, has become the dominant version of Covid in the US. BA.2 has already caused new waves of infection in Europe and China.
White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said earlier this month that BA.2 will likely cause infections to rise in the US. He doesn’t expect another spike in cases.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Washington state projects that infections will continue to decline through the spring and summer. However, Ali Mokdad, an epidemiologist at IHME, said another spike could happen in the fall as immunity from vaccines wanes and people move indoors during colder weather.
Democrats and Republicans in Congress failed to reach a bipartisan agreement on $15 billion in Covid funding, less than the amount requested by the White House. Republicans want to cover any new spending by cutting funds already allocated to state and local governments. Democrats rejected that demand.
Negotiations are underway in the House and Senate to find a compromise.
Biden also warned that the US will not have the money to ramp up testing, monoclonal antibody treatments and antiviral pills if another wave of Covid sweeps the US.
The president also launched a new government website, covid.govwhere Americans can find out where they can get masks, tests, vaccines and treatments.