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President Joe Biden said Friday that he will ask Congress for additional funding for the development of a new COVID vaccine.
The president announced his request for more funding while speaking to reporters as he vacations in Lake Tahoe, California.
“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,” Biden, according to the Associated Press, adding, “It will likely be recommended that everybody get it no matter whether they’ve gotten it before or not.”
Pfizer and Moderna are currently working on new vaccines to fight the latest omicron strain as some scientists warn of rising COVID cases across the country. At the end of July, COVID hospitalizations were just over 9,000, but that’s only a fraction of the admissions that were seen during the height of COVID and later surges of the delta and omicron variants, the AP reported. In January 2022 during a surge from omicron, an estimated 150,000 people were in the hospital from the virus.
The slight rise in COVID cases has caused some businesses and universities to reinstate mask mandates. Morris Brown College in Atlanta is bringing back a mask mandate despite having zero reported cases of COVID on campus. Lionsgate film studio in California is also reinstating mask mandates for some of its Santa Monica offices. Lionsgate said it would have a “building entry policy” that requires employees “to perform a daily self-screening prior to coming to the office each day.” and workers must also notify the company of any “new or worsening symptoms” or if they “traveled internationally in the last 10 days.” Lionsgate later lifted the mandate, saying it had contained the COVID spread.
The Biden administration is hoping that updated COVID vaccines will be available at the end of September. Updated shots developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and smaller manufacturer Novavax still have to be approved by the FDA and recommended by the CDC.
“Vaccination is going to continue to be key this year because immunity wanes and because the COVID-19 virus continues to change,” a Biden administration official said on a call with reporters. “For those reasons, vaccines remain the best protection against hospitalization and death.”
The White House requested $40 billion from Congress earlier this month, but it did not include additional funding for COVID vaccines. Instead, the Biden administration asked for more than $24 billion to go to Ukraine, $12 billion to replenish disaster relief funds, and $4 billion for issues at the southern border such as housing illegal immigrants, POLITICO reported.