A funding dispute with GOP senators could complicate Biden's efforts on antivirals and testing.

A funding dispute with Republican senators could complicate the Biden administration’s effort to secure free supplies of antiviral pills...


A funding dispute with Republican senators could complicate the Biden administration’s effort to secure free supplies of antiviral pills and monoclonal antibody treatments this year to Americans who test positive for the coronavirus.

The question is whether the White House has provided the level of detail Republicans want about the trillions of dollars in Covid relief spending that Congress previously authorized. A group of three dozen Republican senators, led by Mitt Romney of Utah, said at the White House last week that they would not consider billions in new Covid relief spending without a more detailed accounting of how existing funds had been spent and if there was any money left.

“It is not yet clear why additional funding is needed,” they said. wrote in a letter to President Biden on Wednesday.

Administrative officials have requested $22.5 billion for additional vaccines, oral antivirals and monoclonal antibodies, testing and support for the global vaccination effort.

Republican senators have suggested the administration should divert money from the $1.9 trillion pandemic law to areas that need it, rather than asking Congress to spend billions in new funds.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said friday that the current supply of monoclonal antibodies will run out by May and that stocks of oral antivirals would run out by September with no new purchases. “It’s an urgent request,” she said.

A breakdown of spending on Covid-related supplies like tests, vaccines and treatments provided to Congress by the Biden administration and obtained by The New York Times said nearly all of the existing funds had been spent or committed to signed contracts. , and that all remaining funds had been allocated. The administration offered some details about its new Covid spending plans in a letter to congress wednesday.

The dispute over funding is unfolding as the White House tries to put in place plans it says are key to the country’s efforts to return to some semblance of normality.

Hundreds of pharmacies and other health establishments were ready to launch a “test to treat” program this week allowing people to come in for a coronavirus test and, if the results are positive, walk away with free antiviral pills, administration officials said.

Last week the The Department of Defense told STAT, a medical media outlet, that it would exercise contractual options to buy more antiviral treatment from Pfizer, known as Paxlovid, once funding becomes available.

The White House also said Americans who had already received a package of four free at-home coronavirus tests from the government would become eligible this week to place a second order on covidtests.gov.

New cases of the virus in the United States have plummeted in recent weeks, but more than 1,500 Americans still die from the virus each day on average.

There are also signs that a particular version of the Omicron variant that is even more contagious that the one that tore through the United States this winter is becoming more prevalent, reaching about 8% of sequenced cases in the United States at the end of February. But overall, cases remain down and the vaccines appear to be just as effective against the Omicron subvariant, which does not appear to be more serious.

Biden administration officials hope to include the $22.5 billion in coronavirus aid, alongside humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine, in a sweeping catch-all spending package that would fund the government to the rest of the exercise. Congress has until March 11, when the funding is set to expire, to hammer out the details of a deal.

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Newsrust - US Top News: A funding dispute with GOP senators could complicate Biden's efforts on antivirals and testing.
A funding dispute with GOP senators could complicate Biden's efforts on antivirals and testing.
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