Washington, March 31 Just before he received his second Covid-19 booster shot, US President Joe Biden said although “we’re now in a new moment in this pandemic”, it does not mean that it is over.
Addressing reporters at the White House on Wednesday, he urged Congress to “secure more funding for the Covid-19 response”, reports Xinhua news agency
“There is no wall you can build high enough to keep out a virus… Congress needs to act now. Please.”
The fund to cover testing and treatment for uninsured Americans ran out of money last week, leaving people to pay up to 125 U.S. dollars out of pocket for a PCR test. The funding to cover the cost of administering vaccines for those uninsured will run out next week.
Biden acknowledged his administration has had to cancel planned orders of monoclonal antibodies and cut the supply it is sending to states, and that “we’ll start to run out of them by the end of May” without more funding.
He also announced the launch of COVID.gov — a new website the White House billed as a new “one-stop shop” to help people in the US gain better access to vaccines, tests, treatments, and masks, “as well as get the latest updates” in their area.
After the remarks, Biden, 79, received his second Covid-19 booster shot — a dose of Pfizer’s vaccine — on camera.
“It didn’t hurt a bit,” he said while fielding questions from reporters.
Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration authorised a second COVID-19 vaccine booster shot for those aged 50 and older, at least four months after their first booster.
Biden received his first booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine on camera at the end of September 2021.
As of Thursday morning, the US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 80,057,126 and 979,870.
The highly contagious Omicron subvariant BA.2 is now the dominant strain in the US, causing almost 55 per cent of all new infections last week, the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre have recently tested positive for Covid-19 and worked remotely.
Both women were vaccinated and boosted and said to be experiencing mild symptoms.
The White House said it has taken strong precautions to protect Biden from the virus, including regular screening and testing of those who will come in close contact with him.
The President is also tested semi-regularly and tested negative earlier this week.
“The President’s doctor determines if additional testing is needed in any given week, in light of various considerations,” White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said on Tuesday.
“So, more specifically to your question, because of his travel this week, he will test in addition to his regular testing cadence.”
The Biden administration unveiled the federal budget request for the fiscal year 2023, in which it urged efforts and investments to prepare “for future pandemics and other biological threats”.
The budget asks for “transformative investments in pandemic preparedness” across the Department of Health and Human Services — $81.7 billion available over five years — while it includes $9.9 billion to expand public health infrastructure and increase capacity for forecasting as well as analyzing future outbreaks, among other things.
The proposed funding for public health services, however, was hugely dwarfed by the amount requested for military and defence spending which totals over $813 billion.
Biden pitched it as “one of the largest investments in our national security in history”.