Mar 2, 2022 - Health

White House rolls out new COVID plan

President Joe Biden at the State of the Union address in 2022.
Photo: Saul Loeb - Pool/Getty Images

The Biden Administration today rolled out a new national COVID-19 preparedness plan on Wednesday that calls for maintaining free access to vaccines, masks, tests and drugs, as well respond more quickly to potential future variants.

Why it matters: It's part of an effort by the White House to push America into a post-pandemic phase while continuing to live with the virus.

"We've reached a new moment in COVID-19 in the fight against COVID-19," White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said during a briefing.

Driving the news: President Joe Biden previewed parts of the plan in the State of the Union Tuesday evening, including a test-to-treat program, which would speed access to COVID antiviral drugs.

  • The plan also calls for boosting U.S. manufacturing capacity of COVID-19 vaccines by an additional 1 billion doses per year while also accelerating research and development into a single vaccine that protects against all known COVID variants.
  • It also calls for maintaining a network of tens of thousands of sites to deliver the shots, as well as ongoing investments in ensuring an adequate supply of free tests and masks.
  • The plan calls for continued investment in emerging treatments for COVID-19, including for patients suffering from long COVID, as well as the financial and mental health needs of those who've lost a loved one during the pandemic.
  • The plan also calls for increased investment the Initiative for Global Vaccine Access (Global VAX) to get more shots in arms, as well as increasing supplies of critical needs such as oxygen.

The bottom line: The administration is trying to shift from crisis footing to a more long-term approach for what remains an unpredictable virus.

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