WASHINGTON — With yet another COVID-19 variant on the march, the White House is pleading with Congress to resurrect $15.6 billion in lapsed pandemic funding.
The aid was stripped from last week's deal to keep the government funded, and efforts to pass a separate bill are facing an uphill fight in the 50-50 Senate.
White House officials say the shortfall will soon make it harder to access the vaccines, booster shots, tests and drug therapies that have become vital tools in the fight against COVID-19.
And with the pandemic reaching the two-year mark, there are ominous signs that the crisis remains far from over.
Cases of a newly mutated form of the Omicron variant have spiked dramatically in China, where the city of Shenzhen, a technology hub near Hong Kong, is effectively back in lockdown mode.
China reported 1,420 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the fifth straight day of more than 1,000 new daily cases.
"With cases rising abroad, scientific and medical experts have been clear that in the next couple of months there could be increasing cases of COVID-19 here in the U.S as well," the White House said in a statement.
"Failure to fund these efforts now will have severe consequences as we will not be equipped to deal with a future surge. Waiting to provide funding once we're in a surge will be too late."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2022.
The Canadian Press