Funds for COVID Testing, Treatment, Vaccines Are Evaporating. Congress Must Act.

Three weeks ago, congressional Democrats dumped$15.6 billion in funding from the $1.5 Trillion federal spending bill for COVID pandemic relief. My knees shook when it happened. It’s one thing to talk about the current crisis in an election year, but it’s quite another to cut funding to maintain our success. If this were a ground war, it would be tantamount to sending the army home just as the enemy’s gates were coming into view.

Upon consideration, I could grudgingly see the logic of it … the Washington D.C. logic, anyway. Congressional Republicans were prepared to fight to the death over “new spending,” and a tussle like that regarding COVID money, in what had already been an agonizingly protracted budget fight, could have doomed the entire bill. This would have ended humanitarian funding to Ukraine, a number climate protections, funding child care, and money to keep the federal government funded through September.

Fine, I thought at that time, cut the funding. The ink will dry on the budget bill. However, congressfolks need to get back to the drawing boards and get this COVID funding fixed. We aren’t quite out of the woods yet. New variants are constantly being developed and our defenses could be vulnerable to yet another attack. This, I thought three week ago, was commonsense, enlightened self interest. I watched and waited.

Three weeks later, nothing has changed. The fight for our lives has been marred by both deliberate delusion, rampaging ignorance, and government interference. After all that we have endured and learned, this latest fiasco is undoubtedly the best.

Dr. Vivek Muthy is the U.S. surgeon General. Dr. David Kessler, chief science officer at the U.S. Covid-19 response team, is Dr. They teamed up to pen a pleaThe pages of The New York Times:

The federal government is running out funds to provide Americans, particularly those who are not insured, with Covid-19 vaccines and other treatments. Other critical elements of the public healthcare response, such as Covid-19 surveillance and the global vaccination campaign are also at risk. We will be in a far worse position if we don’t receive the funding. We will struggle to keep pace with a virus that is constantly evolving and will continue to pose a threat to our health, our economy, and our peace-of-mind.

For the first time, we can’t order enough vaccines to supply boosters for all Americans. However, a fourth dose may be required in the fall. We won’t have the funds to secure, deliver or administer variant-specific vaccinations if they are needed. Last week, we were forced to cut our shipments of lifesaving monoclonal antibodies to states by 35 percent — and we anticipate running out of monoclonal antibodies later this spring. We won’t continue to make home tests available and critical surveillance efforts that help predict new variants and waves of disease will be compromised.

Several states, including Minnesota and Colorado, have already begun. scaling back or closing downCOVID testing, and vaccination sites. Manufacturers of vaccines and tests are cutting production. This is happening at a time when the number of people who get vaccinated has fallen to a halt. The FDA has announced authorization for at-risk people 50 and over to get a second booster shot, but is doing next to nothing to promoteThe booster’s availability or effectiveness.

“Some U.S. health care providers are informing uninsured people they can no longer be tested for the virus free of charge and will have to pay for the service,” reports the Times. “[A] a fund established to reimburse doctors for care for uninsured Covid patients was no longer accepting claims for testing and treatment ‘due to lack of sufficient funds.’” As one front-line medical professional noted on Twitter, “The rationing of COVID-care by ability to pay begins.”

And, hovering above all that, this: B.A.2 is out there, growing stronger as it spreads its influence across the population. It is almost certain that there will be more variants of B.A.2 in the future. This is because it is not over. It might never end completely, in fact. It is like playing Russian Roulette with a loaded gun.

Congress, get back to work You giddily authorized$768 billion for war spending. $15 billion to maintain the COVID line barely registers on budgetary Richter Scale. Do it now.