WASHINGTON – May 12, 2022 – White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha recently forecast that Americans will be increasingly vulnerable to the coronavirus this fall and winter if Congress doesn’t quickly approve new funding for more vaccines and treatments. In an Associated Press interview, Jha said Americans’ immune protection from the virus is waning, the virus is adapting to be more contagious and booster doses for most people will be necessary. Jha said most deaths from the virus now are preventable with vaccinations, boosters, and therapeutics so they need to be readily available.
The White House said there could be up to 100 million COVID infections later this year – and there have already been 1 million deaths. Jha said, “As we get to the fall, we are all going to have a lot more vulnerability to a virus that has a lot more immune escape than even it does today and certainly than it did six months ago.” Jha predicted that the next generation of vaccines, which are likely to be targeted at the currently prevailing omicron strain, “are going to provide a much, much higher degree of protection against the virus that we will encounter in the fall and winter.”
Biden requested $22.5 billion in emergency funding for the virus response in March, but the money has been held up by sticker shock in Congress, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, and the expiring Trump administration’s migrant restrictions at the U.S.-Mexico border. Jha said he’s been making the case to lawmakers for additional funding for weeks. He opines that there is “no viable alternative path” right now than to have the U.S. government take the lead in securing COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
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Contact: Dick Needleman, Health reporter, 103.3 AshevilleFM, email@example.com