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Biden Asks Congress for Additional Funding for COVID-19 Vaccine

President Joe Biden announced on Friday that he plans to request more funding from Congress to develop a new coronavirus vaccine. As new waves and hospitalizations rise, Biden believes it is necessary to invest in the development of updated vaccines.

Scientists are already anticipating the need for updated COVID-19 vaccines, particularly for the omicron variant known as XBB.1.5. Currently, vaccines combine the original coronavirus strain with last year’s most common omicron variants. However, as the virus continues to mutate, there will always be a need for updated vaccines.

The goal is to have people start receiving annual fall COVID-19 shots next month. Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax are all working on producing doses of the XBB update. However, the vaccines will need approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) before they can be administered.

While vacationing in the Lake Tahoe area, Biden stated, “I signed off this morning on a proposal we have to present to Congress a request for additional funding for a new vaccine that is necessary, that works.” He added that once the shots are ready, it is tentatively recommended that everybody should get them.

In August, the White House requested $40 billion in funding from Congress, but it did not mention COVID-19. The funds were intended for other purposes such as supporting Ukraine, replenishing U.S. federal disaster funds, and enhancing border security. Last year, the administration requested $9.25 billion to combat the virus, but Congress denied the request.

While COVID-19 hospital admissions have increased by about 12% in the past week, the numbers are nowhere near the peaks seen earlier this year. In January, weekly hospital admissions reached 44,000, and in July, they reached nearly 45,000. During the omicron surge in January 2022, there were 150,000 admissions.

Overall, President Biden is taking proactive measures to secure additional funding for the development of a new COVID-19 vaccine. As new variants emerge, it is crucial to stay ahead and ensure the availability of updated vaccines to protect public health.

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