Officials: US falling behind for new vaccines

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha warned on Wednesday that every day that goes by without Congress providing funding to fight the virus, the United States falls further in line to buy updated vaccines.


“My take is every day we wait, every week we wait, we just fall a little further behind in line,” Jha said at the first formal press briefing of the COVID-19 response team since he took over last month.


Pfizer and Moderna are working on new versions of their vaccines that are aimed at working better against the omicron variant that is currently circulating, and those vaccines are expected to be ready by the fall.


But the White House warns that it will not have enough money to purchase those new vaccines for all Americans unless lawmakers provide new COVID-19 funding, a request that has been stalled for months in Congress.


Officials say the clock is ticking, because there is a limited supply of the new vaccines and other countries are also angling to get them.


“The truth is other countries are in conversations with the manufacturers,” Jha said.


“It takes about three months to manufacture these and if we want to be ready for the fall, it’s not too early to start thinking about this stuff,” he noted. “And in fact, we’ve had some very preliminary conversations with the manufacturers, but the negotiations around it have not yet begun partly because we’re waiting for resources.”