As pharmaceutical companies roll out their fourth round of COVID vaccine boosters, the White House warns that it does not have the funds to cover doses for most American citizens. And COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients is asking Congress to take action and pass a bill that would give billions more dollars to coronavirus aid.
At a Glance
- COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said on Monday that nearly all the money allocated to the pandemic fight is gone.
- The organization has set aside funds to cover vaccines for children under 5 and a fourth booster for senior citizens. But there is nothing left for the majority of Americans.
- Zients is asking Congress to give another $22.5 billion towards his efforts.
- So far, neither party is backing his plan.
White House is Running out of Money for COVID Efforts and Cannot Afford to Supply a Fourth Booster
While speaking with “In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt” on Monday, Zients said that the government set aside enough money to pay for Americans 65 and older to get a fourth shot. And it can also afford to pay for the first few doses for Children under 5. But the money for everyone else has dried up. And the COVID response team has had to “cut back allocations” to states by 30% in order to “preserve the inventory” it has. About 93% of the previously allocated funds are already gone.
“Right now, we don’t have enough money for fourth doses, if they’re called for – booster shots, additional booster shots for all Americans,” he said. “We don’t have the funding if we were to need a variant-specific vaccine in the future. Immediately, we don’t have money to order more of the very effective monoclonal treatments.”
According to Zients, Congress should pass a bill that would allocate more funds towards his efforts to support continuous vaccines. But so far, neither the Republicans nor the Democrats wish to add more money to the COVID pot. Earlier this month, lawmakers proved that with they removed the funding plan from the recent $1.5 trillion dollar spending bill.
Jeff Zients is asking for $22.5 billion dollars. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is asking the Biden administration to double that.
“It’s really Congress’ job now to provide those funds, to pass the $22.5 billion in emergency funds so that we can continue to keep Americans protected, prepare for whatever the virus could bring in the future, and continue our efforts to vaccinate the world,” he continued.
Pfizer, Moderna, and BioNech filed for emergency authorization for a fourth booster shot. However, health officials have not determined if they will be necessary.