Despite “limited funding,” the White House announced on Thursday that it had purchased 100 million rapid at-home COVID-19 tests from domestic manufacturers to “help meet some testing needs” as winter approaches.
Citing its goal of “mobilizing and strengthening the domestic testing manufacturing industrial base,” the White House move was aimed at increasing the now-depleted supply of tests in the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).
“While insufficient to adequately replenish our existing stockpile of at-home tests, this procurement will help meet some testing needs in the months ahead and will put us in a better position to manage a potential increase in testing demand this fall and winter,” the White House said, according to Fox Business.
As BizPac Review reported, the Biden administration ordered private insurance companies in January to pay for eight at-home COVID-19 tests per month for Americans, but the program was immediately beset with shortages. By February, more than 60 million households had ordered the tests from the government, but less than half had allegedly received them.
Americans confront Biden and Psaki over broken vow: Where are our free at-home Covid tests? https://t.co/YB7teoeMrT
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) February 7, 2022
Even then, the investment in free tests was seen as “reactive,” as the worst of the pandemic had already passed.
“It’s still good for people to have access to tests,” said Amherst Pierpont chief economist Stephen Stanley, “but the federal government was reactive rather than proactive, and its efforts are bearing fruit well past the point of maximum need.”
The program was finally halted at the beginning of this month, not because of lack of need or demand, but “because Congress had not provided additional funding to replenish the nation’s stockpile,” according to COVIDTests.gov.
To make matters worse, “to pay for omicron-specific bivalent booster vaccine shots from Pfizer and Moderna, the Department of Health and Human Services said that the administration was forced to pull $10 billion in existing funding from critical COVID response efforts,” Fox Business reports.
As a result, the Biden administration now wants Congress to pony up billions more of taxpayers’ money “to meet immediate short-term domestic needs.”
“Last week, we sent an updated $22.4 billion request to Congress to meet immediate short-term domestic needs, including testing; to accelerate the research and development of next-generation vaccines and therapeutics; to increase our understanding of Long COVID; to prepare for future surges and variants and to support the global response to COVID-19,” the White House stated. “While we have made tremendous progress on COVID-19, Congress must step up to ensure that we can continue stay on our front foot against this unpredictable virus.”
The additional funding is necessary, argues the administration, to ease “difficult decisions.”
“We will not have enough tests in our Strategic National Stockpile should we see another omicron-like event,” stated HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on Tuesday. “We had promised the American people we would make sure that we did not get into that.”
“But we needed Congress to step up; Congress has not stepped up,” he continued. “So we are constantly making what I think are impossibly difficult decisions.”
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