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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 for the development of another coronavirus vaccine. This comes as scientists monitor new waves of the virus and hospitalizations continue to rise, although not as severely as before.

Scientists are already anticipating updated COVID-19 vaccines that target the omicron strain, specifically the XBB.1.5 variant. This is a significant change from the current combination shots, which include a mixture of the original coronavirus strain and last year’s most common omicron variants. However, as the virus continues to mutate, there will always be a need for updated vaccines.

It is expected that people will be able to receive the annual fall COVID-19 shot starting next month. Pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax are all working on producing doses of the XBB update. However, each vaccine 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 the Congress a request for additional funding for a new vaccine that is necessary, that works.”

He also mentioned that it is “tentatively” recommended that everyone gets vaccinated once the shots are ready.

In the White House’s funding request to Congress on August 11, COVID-19 was not mentioned. The request included funding for Ukraine, replenishing U.S. federal disaster funds after a devastating climate season, and boosting enforcement at the Southern border. Last fall, the administration requested $9.25 billion in funding for COVID-19 response, but Congress rejected the request.

As of the week ending July 29, there were 9,056 COVID-19 hospital admissions, which is a 12% increase compared to the previous week. However, these numbers are significantly lower than previous peaks observed earlier this year. For example, there were around 44,000 weekly hospital admissions in early January and nearly 45,000 in late July 2022. The peak during the omicron surge in January 2022 saw approximately 150,000 admissions.

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