Funding challenges force tough choices as Biden administration prepares to roll out new Covid-19 booster shots

Funding challenges force tough choices as Biden administration prepares to roll out new Covid-19 booster shots

It almost never happened.

Dr. Ashish Jah said in an interview on Wednesday, “It’s very important to protect Americans this fall and winter, and we needed to make sure we had resources.”

“It hurt,” he added. “We are getting resources from other things that we consider to be very high priorities. We do not have the required testing stockpile for the fall and winter. We do not have any personal protective equipment. , will become inadequate as we head into autumn and winter.”

Another senior government official described the trade-off as “stealing payments from Peter to Paul.”

“There were no easy choices,” an official said.

White House officials are now confident that millions of doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s new booster shots will be widely available as early as next week, but they openly admit and lament it. it came at the expense of funds Due to testing and personal protective equipment likely to be required later this year. Public education campaigns to encourage Americans to obtain new and improved booster shots will also be curtailed, two administration officials told CNN.

The Biden administration purchased 171 million doses of the latest vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna this summer, after reallocating about $5 billion to other pandemic funds. Amid resistance from Republicans, Congress was unable to reach agreement on subsidies, so in June the Biden administration’s top health officials decided they had to find another way.

Shots won’t be weaponized until the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues official recommendations for newly approved shots, which are expected to take place by the end of the week, but the government has already sold more than 20 million doses. Can be pre-ordered at states, primary care providers, pharmacies, and clinics.

Based in part on findings from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the government has announced that it will spend the first few weeks of September to educate Americans about the benefits of the new injection and encourage them to get a boost. We are still planning to launch a public education campaign. At least 1,500 people per week to test different messages.

But even in that campaign, the administration faces tougher choices.

Paid advertising will be curtailed, key communities will be “specifically targeted,” according to senior government officials, and the government will increasingly rely on earned media and partnerships with local officials, experts and organizations to disseminate information.

“Our fundraising challenges are real and we are doing everything we can to launch the strongest and most comprehensive campaign possible, but we are doing so with considerable constraints. “It’s a big, big hill to climb,” the official said, educating the public about the new shot.

More than two-thirds of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, but less than one-third receive a booster dose, according to CDC data. Giving these people a booster shot is crucial to mitigating the potential for tens of thousands of Covid deaths this winter as Americans head indoors and infections rise.

The funding trade-off also means that it may be harder for the US to detect and slow down infections in the fall and winter months, as tests are likely to fall short again.

“We are utterly concerned about our ability to sense and respond to future waves,” the senior administration official said, adding that the White House continues to urge Congress to provide billions of dollars in additional funding. rice field.

Experts say the White House ultimately got the math right by prioritizing funding for vaccines over testing and PPE.

“I think it’s very unfortunate that they had to make that choice,” said Dr. Megan Raney, an emergency physician and dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. “It was the right choice given the financial constraints the federal government is placed in. A vaccine would be more cost-effective than maintaining a stockpile of PPE and testing. It’s not conscientious not to.”

Still, Lanny said he worries that the lack of PPE and testing could plague the United States again if a new, more dangerous strain emerges and cases surge.

“We are choosing not to prepare for the end result so that we can deal with the current situation,” she said.


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