On March 15, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) submitted a letter to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California), speaker of the House of Representatives, regarding the available funds from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) COVID-19 Uninsured Program. According to the letter, all funds from the program will be depleted as of March 22, 2022, and claims for COVID-19 testing and treatment will no longer be accepted after that date.
“On March 3, we requested $22.5 billion in emergency funding by mid-March to avoid severe disruptions to our COVID response,” wrote Shalanda D. Young, acting director of the OMB, and Jeffrey D. Zients, White House coordinator for COVID-19 Response. “We are now again writing to notify you of the consequences of a lack of funding. These include no additional purchases of monoclonal antibodies sent to states, fewer tests made in America, fewer treatments for the immune compromised, and a risk of running short on vaccines.”
Young and Zients further noted in their letter that the depletion of fundings would leave the United States vulnerable should it need to respond to a future surge in COVID-19 cases, including those caused by heretofore unidentified variants.
If additional funding is not granted, the HRSA Uninsured Program will also cease accepting new vaccination claims as of April 5. A planned order for monoclonal antibodies scheduled for March 25 would also be left unfulfilled, and a confirmed order of 20 million antiviral pills would not be purchased. Funding depletion would also halt efforts to develop a next-generation COVID-19 vaccine that would offer strong protection against future variants.
“Without additional funding to support getting shots into arms, USAID and interagency partners will have to cut short efforts to turn vaccines into vaccinations across the globe,” Young and Zients wrote. “Leaving large unvaccinated populations worldwide will increase the risk of new deadly variants emerging that could evade our current vaccines and treatments.”