HealthDay News — The Biden administration plans to stop buying COVID-19 tests, vaccines, and treatments as early as the fall, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha, MD, said Tuesday.
Under that plan, those products would be provided through the regular health care system, Jha said at an event sponsored by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, CNN reported. While the government would still invest in next-generation vaccines and pandemic preparedness, commercialization on tests, vaccines, and treatments would begin this fall and expand in 2023, Jha noted. That transition will require working through regulatory issues, market dynamic issues, and equity issues, he explained.
“Right now, everybody can walk into a CVS and get a vaccine. I want to make sure that when we make this transition, we don’t end up at a point where nobody can get a vaccine because we didn’t get the transition right,” he said.
A deal for $10 billion in additional COVID-19 funds did not pass Congress this year, so funding was shifted from increasing testing supplies and protective equipment in the national stockpile to buying updated vaccine boosters that offer some protection against new variants of the virus, such as the omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, CNN reported. Those are expected in early to mid-September.
“Those vaccines are coming very, very soon. And so it’s going to be really important that people this fall and winter get the new shot. It’s designed for the virus that’s out there,” Jha said. “And again, based on everything we’ve seen so far, all the data suggests it should be highly effective against the new variants.”