By Marta Hill
It is “pretty urgent” that Congress act now to pass more funding for COVID-19 relief, Dr. Ashish Jha said Friday on CBS Mornings.
Otherwise, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said the United States is likely in for a grim fall and winter.
“We put in an emergency request for $22.5 billion actually, too, which we thought was sort of really the bare minimum we needed to get us through this fall and winter,” Jha said. “Without that money, we’re not going to have enough of a new generation of vaccines that Americans are going to need this fall for everybody. We’re gonna run out of treatments; we’re gonna run out of testing.”
The last two winters have brought with them a substantial wave of new infections. It’s a scenario that Jha, who is on leave from his position as dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said is possible again this year.
“What we’re doing in the White House is we’re planning both for the summer, as well as for the fall and winter,” Jha said. “We’re looking at a range of models, both internal as well as external, and some of them suggest that if we go into the fall and winter with no treatments, with no new generation of vaccines, no treatments, we could be looking at a pretty substantial wave of infections.”
Both parties in Congress reached a deal early in April on a $10 billion package, less than the White House’s original ask of $22.5 billion. But the lesser amount is now stalled as Republicans call for reversing the lifting of the Trump-era policy called Title 42, which allows officials to turn away asylum seekers at the border because of the pandemic.
“Obviously, we hope Congress steps up and does its job, but we’ve got to plan for those scenarios,” Jha said.
Meanwhile, the Federal Drug Administration could authorize a COVID-19 vaccine for kids under 5 next month, a long-awaited development.
Jha said seeing the data is key.
According to research from the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 18% of parents would vaccinate their child under 5 “right away,” alluding to hesitancy among parents.
“I have three children, all of whom are vaccinated,” the doctor said. “Why? Because the benefits of vaccines clearly outweigh the risks. These are very, very safe vaccines, and they provide a very high degree of protection. I expect we’ll see the same thing for kids under 5, we’ll see where the data ends. But I really do think that [it is] very important for kids to get vaccinated.”
Dr. @ashishkjha is urging Congress to approve more than $20 billion in funding to purchase more vaccines, testing and treatments ahead of a possible COVID surge this fall and winter.
He says without that money, the U.S. will “run out of testing” and treatments. pic.twitter.com/2Lqhy5peCq
Stay up to date on all the latest news from Boston.com
Be civil. Be kind.
©2022 Boston Globe Media Partners, LLC
Stay up to date with everything Boston. Receive the latest news and breaking updates, straight from our newsroom to your inbox.