May 13, 2022 — The U.S. will become increasingly vulnerable to the coronavirus in the fall and winter this year if Congress doesn’t approve new funding for more vaccines and treatments, Ashish Jha, MD, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said Thursday.
” As we approach the fall, we will all be more vulnerable to a virus with a lot greater immune escape than it does today and certainly more than it did six month ago,” he stated. “That leaves a lot of us vulnerable.”
Also on Thursday, President Joe Biden ordered flags to fly at half-staff through May 16 to mark 1 million U.S. COVID-19 deaths during the pandemic, according to ABC News.
Last week, the White House released an estimate that up to 100 million Americans could become infected with the coronavirus during the fall and winter, which could lead to major surges in hospitalizations and deaths.
Jha stated that the next generation vaccines would be focused on the Omicron variant of the virus. However, Congress could not pass legislation in the coming weeks to fund new funding. This could mean that the U.S. may lose priority over other countries to secure vaccine supply.
In March, the Biden administration requested $22.5 billion for coronavirus assistance, which has stalled in Congress for several reasons, including a call from Republicans to strip $5 billion in global aid. Jha told the AP that he has spoken with lawmakers in recent weeks, saying the current $10 billion proposal is “the bare minimum that we need to get through this fall and winter without large loss of life.”
In addition, Jha called for the U.S. to provide vaccine assistance to other c