U.S. Faces New Covid-19 Variant BA.2 Without Funding for Tests and Treatments

According to the CDC, the omicron BA.2 variant accounts for 39% of COVID circulating in New York and New Jersey right now. By comparison, it’s responsible for about a quarter of new infections nationally. Its prevalence has doubled in just the last week or so.

For now, experts are saying to expect an uptick in cases but no surge. That comes from the new White House Covid Czar Dr. Ashish Jha, who points to vaccinations and boosters to protect the majority of Americans. A CDC study bolstered confidence in the vaccines and boosters preventing serious illness.

As omicron became the dominant variant, the vaccine was 79 percent effective in preventing ventilation or death for people who received the initial series of two doses. The benefit was even greater for people who received a booster shot: During that same time period, the vaccine was 94 percent effective for those people.


Right-wingers’ boogeyman Dr. Anthony Fauci was trying to reassure Americans on Sunday that a reimplementation of restrictions was unlikely, but possible.

Keep in mind that $22.5 billion in COVID-19 funding imploded last week over disagreements about how the new spending should be paid for. The White House has been faced with cutting back on its pandemic response activities because its budget is nearly exhausted, and it’s unclear whether additional funding is on the way.

Without funding provided to continue surveillance, the country will be prone to being ‘blindsided’ by the next variant, according to the White House.

The uninsured will be particularly vulnerable. The White House has warned that starting Tuesday, it will phase out a Covid program that reimburses doctors and medical providers the cost of testing, treating and vaccinating the uninsured. The program will be phased out completely in early April.

Even those who are insured would be facing deductibles and co-pays for testing and early treatment.

Administration officials warn that the government would not have adequate resources to purchase enough booster doses for all people or there would be shortages if a new variant-specific vaccine is needed; it won’t be able to buy additional oral antiviral pills beyond the 20 million already secured, as well as additional monoclonal antibody treatments, which are being shipped to states and expected to run out as soon as late May; and it would have to scale back the purchase of treatments meant for immunocompromised people.

PBS, Local NBC, NBC News