(WASHINGTON) – The Biden administration is preparing to roll out 171 million newly formulated vaccines in September as part of a $5 billion effort to try to mitigate the impact of the highly contagious omicron variant .
The effort follows an internal debate among President Joe Biden’s top officials over whether to allow young Americans to get vaccinated now or wait until a more effective vaccine is released this fall.
The current vaccine was designed to work against the original strain of COVID. And while it continues to significantly reduce the risk of hospitalizations and deaths, its effectiveness has slowly declined as the virus has mutated.
As a result, Americans over 50 have already been ordered to receive a second booster dose, while younger Americans have been instructed to receive an additional booster.
Moderna and Pfizer say they now have new formulas of the COVID vaccine that will hopefully be more resistant to the omicron variant.
Federal regulators would still have to approve new vaccines. But industry and government officials say they hope the Food and Drug Administration will allow the injections and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will recommend them.
According to two administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, industry officials assured the government it could deliver the vaccines. newly formulated by September.
At this point, officials said, the decision was made to suspend the nationwide rollout of additional boosters for people under 50.
Overall, the government now has room to buy 600 million new vaccines for the omicron variant, with plans to deliver 171 million this fall.
Moderna and the government on Friday announced a $1.74 billion contract for the manufacture and delivery of 66 million doses and the option to purchase an additional 234 million doses later.
The government had already agreed to pay Pfizer $3.2 billion for 105 million doses this fall with the option of purchasing an additional 195 million doses later.
The Biden administration says it has moved $10 billion in its current budget to cover the cost of these vaccines and other treatments.
But officials warn there is a trade-off in buying these vaccines so Americans can get them for free, even without insurance.
According to a statement provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, the money was taken from testing and ensuring that stocks of protective equipment are ready to deal with another pandemic or an increase in cases. .
Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.