US shuffles $10B COVID-19 aid from testing to buy more vaccines, treatments

After failing to pass another COVID-19 relief package, the federal government is veering off course and investing $10 billion for vaccines and the antiviral treatment Paxlovid originally marked for tests and personal protective equipment, The New York Times reported.

Supply officials warned that the U.S. would face a COVID-19 drug shortage by summer as White House COVID-19 coordinator Ashish Jha, MD, called the current pool of funds "the bare minimum" after Congress slashed the proposed budget from $25.5 billion to $10 billion in May.

About half of the rerouted funds are marked for 10 million Paxlovid courses, according to the Times. Paxlovid is the nation's most prescribed at-home COVID-19 treatment and was inaccessible to 26 million people at the beginning of 2022. 

With the new plan, HHS can't afford to support normal production levels for COVID-19 tests and PPE, leaving hundreds of stateside manufacturing jobs in jeopardy, according to the Times.

 

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