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White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha has revealed that the Biden administration has plans to stop buying vaccines, treatments and tests for the virus starting in the fall.
Dr. Jha said during a recorded conversation with U.S. Chamber President and CEO Suzanne Clark on Tuesday that the administration is making an effort to move out of the crisis phase of the pandemic.
"One of the things we've spent a lot of time thinking about in the last many months — and we're going to continue this work, and you'll hear more from the administration on this — is getting us out of that acute emergency phase where the U.S. government is buying the vaccines, buying the treatments, buying the diagnostic tests," Dr. Jha said.
"My hope is that in 2023, you're going to see the commercialization of almost all of these products. Some of that is actually going to begin this fall, in the days and weeks ahead. You're going to see commercialization of some of these things," he continued.
As a result of this plan, the availability of vaccines, boosters and treatments would become a part of the healthcare system. Dr. Jha explained that if any of these treatments are needed, one would get them from their regular doctor or at a hospital.
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This includes updated booster vaccines that have been designed to target new strains of the virus. Dr. Jha predicted they would be available in as few as three weeks from now — assuming the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stay on track to approve the vaccines.
Dr. Jha said he had hopes that every adult in the country who wanted a booster would have access to one, despite difficulties in sharing and allocating resources.
"We're still working on trying to pull more resources from other places," he said. "I would like to get to a point where every adult in America who wants a vaccine can get one. I'm hopeful we will be there. We're not quite there yet in terms of how many vaccine doses we've been able to buy."
"What's really limited us is a lack of resources, but we are pulling from other high-priority items. So my hope is that we're going to be able to have this for every single adult in America. We will know more about that in the upcoming weeks, I think," he added.
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He also encouraged the public to get flu shots as well as their updated COVID boosters as soon as they could, before winter comes.
"Our healthcare system is going to get into serious trouble unless we are very proactive about preventing it — so if we do nothing and just sort of hope for the best, I think we could end up getting into a lot of trouble this fall and winter," Dr. Jha said.
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