The White House is working on a proposal asking Congress for tens of billions in new funding to help respond to the ongoing Covid pandemic, The Washington Post reports.
The White House Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Health and Human Services are working on a request for funding that would entail tens of billions to ramp up vaccine distribution and Covid therapeutics, according to the report.
The request is also likely to seek money to expand global vaccine distribution.
It’s unclear how much in already approved health funding the White House has left but officials told the Post that it will likely have to seek additional long-term funding in the “coming weeks.”
Officials stressed that there is enough funding for now and that the additional money is needed to prepare for future contingencies.
White House goes all-in on therapeutics:
The White House last year spent more than $5 billion to buy 10 million courses of Pfizer’s antiviral pill Paxlovid, which has been shown to help keep people with Covid out of the hospital.
Biden announced last week that the administration will buy another 10 million courses that will be delivered by September.
But officials worry that the demand for the pill could quickly outstrip supply.
Other companies are working on their own therapeutics and Merck has already released an oral therapeutic, though it was not as effective as Pfizer’s treatment.
The White House has pushed back on calls to provide more economic assistance to businesses hit hard by the Omicron surge but a bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing to provide additional aid to restaurants.
“We did a major relief package that included helping restaurants just last year. We are in constant discussions with Congress and leadership about the needs of the American people — whether they are small businesses or restaurants or people sitting in their homes — as we continue to fight the pandemic,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said earlier this week.