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Biden demands $10 BILLION more in Covid funds after extending 'health emergency' to April

The money is intended to be used to create more vaccines, for foreign Covid aid, and to tell more people to get vaccinated and boosted.

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Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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Biden finalized yet another request for Covid funding this week, coming as the Biden administration is expected to extend once again the public health emergency regarding the virus. The money is intended to be used to create more vaccines and for foreign Covid aid.

Biden has reportedly finalized a request to Congress for around $10 billion dollars in public health funds, according to six people who spoke anonymously with the Washington Post.

This amount would include $8.25 billion for Covid-response efforts, including the successor program to Operation Warp Speed, which is called by some "Project Covid Shield." Also being debated is around $2 billion for other public health efforts, including around $1 billion for global Covid response and $750 million to combat diseases like hepatitis C and monkeypox.

Senior health officials and experts say that the funding is needed, noting a slowdown in people receiving the latest doses of the vaccine booster that could need a public education campaign to get more people on board, the fading efficacy of antivirals currently on the market, as well as the demand for new vaccines and treatments for future variants of the virus.

"While COVID-19 is no longer the disruptive force it once was, we face new subvariants in the US and around the world that have the potential to cause a surge of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths …" wrote one individual familiar with the budget discussions.

"That’s why we’re requesting $10 billion to meet immediate short-term domestic needs for resources like treatments; to accelerate the research and development of next-generation vaccines and therapeutics; to increase research into long COVID; and to support the global response to COVID-19."

Officials had initially attempted to get between $15 and $20 billion in funding but scaled back these planned amounts given the failed previous attempts to get more funding from Congress.

"The supplemental requests that we keep putting in … just because they don’t go anywhere, doesn’t mean the need for them disappears," Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview last week.

The effort to get more funding comes as the public appears to have a waning interest in combatting the virus. In exit polls during last week’s midterms, just 2 percent of people said that the pandemic was the most important issue facing the country.

This also comes as the Biden administration is set to extend the public health emergency declaration until at least April, with the administration not notifying at the required 60-day mark that they would be going forward with the original date of January 11.

Over the summer, it was predicted that Biden may extend the public health emergency through the 2024 presidential election. With the emergency declaration being extended a number of times since it was initially declared in 2020 by former President Donald Trump, the Department of Health and Human Services has been able to continue many federal programs and mandates that some say have contributed to inflation and the supply chain crisis.

Under the continuation of the emergency declaration, for example, Medicaid has been expanded but would shrink again if the emergency ends. If Biden were to end the public health emergency, it could be seen as a stain on his record for some, thus injuring his chances for a second presidential term.

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