Dr. Ashish Jha calls $10B 'bare minimum' needed to curb COVID-19 surges

While the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve and American's immune protection wanes, $10 billion in federal aid to support the purchase of more tests, therapeutics and vaccines remains tied up in a congressional stalemate

The White House COVID-19 response coordinator called the $10 billion aid package — down from $22.5 billion the Biden administration first requested in March — "the bare minimum" needed to stave off deaths from a surge anticipated this fall and winter. 

In a May 13 interview with AP News, Ashish Jha, MD, called the funding a "very pared request" and "the bare minimum that we need to get through this fall and winter without large loss of life."

Health officials' calls for additional aid come amid warnings the country could see a "pretty sizable wave" of COVID-19 infections this fall and winter, when the vaccinations and treatments the aid would cover would be most beneficial. 

Without emergency funding to purchase more shots, "We will be able to get some vaccines of the new generation, but it'll be a very limited amount and really only for the highest-risk individuals, but it will not be available for everybody," a senior administration official told NBC News this week. 

"We can't wait until the fall" for Congress to approve more funding, Dr. Jha told ABC News May 8. 

The FDA has set meeting dates for June to decide which specific strains fall vaccines will target, with two to three months then needed for manufacturers to develop them. 

"We're really kind of at that deadine and waiting much longer just puts us farther back of the line," Dr. Jha told AP. "If we're willing to be in the back of the line and get our vaccines in the spring, we have plenty of time. But then we'll have missed the entire fall and winter. That's not an acceptable outcome, I think, for the American people." 


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