The Biden administration is cutting back on pandemic programs to continue funding vaccines, The Washington Post reports.
The administration plans to redirect about $5 billion in existing funds to it can purchase new vaccines if they become available.
The administration also plans to use another $5 billion to buy therapeutics like Paxlovid.
Without the change, administration officials worried they would not be able to secure enough new vaccines or treatments if they become available this fall.
But even with the move, the White House may not have enough to secure vaccines for every American.
$10B in cuts:
The White House plans to cut the $10 billion from programs aimed at making tests available and initiatives to stockpile PPE and ventilators.
The cuts could also affect the Department of Health and Human Services’ research on new vaccines and treatments.
“We will continue doing our part to protect the American people,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at her daily press briefing Tuesday. “We’ll use the few funds we have remaining to continue getting testing, treatments and vaccine out to Americans for as long as we can.”
Congress cuts off funds:
The move comes as Republicans in Congress refuse to authorize any additional pandemic funding.
The Biden administration in March asked for $22.5 billion in additional funding, which aides said likely would not be enough.
But GOP leaders demanded Biden instead repurpose leftover funds from the 2021 Covid relief bill.
Some moderate Republicans sought to find a compromise at around $10 billion but that was also shot down.
Ashish Jha, the pandemic response coordinator, expressed concern that the country is going to “run out of vaccines,” treatments and tests, particularly “in the late fall into winter, if we end up having a significant surge of infections.”
“We don’t have the resources to buy those things. And those purchases need to be made now. They cannot be made in the fall,” Jha told reporters. “So if you’re wondering what is it that really worries me — I think we have the tools for the summer. We will not have the tools for the fall and winter, unless Congress steps up and funds us.”