WASHINGTON — The White House is not quite ready to launch its new pandemic response office for a clean handover at the end of the Covid-19 public health emergency, White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha said. Tuesday to reporters.
Jha said White House officials are in the process of creating an Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy that Congress directed to them in December, but it won’t be ready in time for a clean handover at the end of the emergency in the field of public health on May 11.
Asked if he will stay on after the transition, he waved off.
“Right now I’m focused on getting us through the end of the PHE, and if I have more to say about my future I’ll be happy to get an answer,” said Jha.
He also did not specify who the central person for the Covid-19 response would take over if he left the administration. Jha said public health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and the health department’s assistant secretary for preparedness and response would handle future spikes — even though the CDC and NIH are in the midst of leading transitions.
“I’m still here. But in terms of progress, when we need to make announcements about people in specific roles, we’ll make those announcements,” Jha said.
The end of the public health emergency will officially mark the waning influence of the White House Covid-19 response team, which has seen its funding dwindle over the past year. Senior members of that team have already left the administration, including former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci and former FDA commissioner David Kessler, who along with several advisers have overseen the shipments of millions of Covid-19 vaccines and – government treatment. .
While the White House claims it has run out of money to tackle Covid-19 for more than a year, the Biden administration has continued to launch new programs. Republicans have threatened to recover billions of dollars in unspent funds. And Congress did not fund the new pandemic response agency, which will limit its size and influence.
Jha said some recent initiatives, including a $5 billion project to fund research into next-generation vaccines and therapies, have been funded because other projects, such as financial support for healthcare providers and testing programs, have fallen short of expected budgets.
The administration has also run out of money to buy additional vaccines and treatments. While the federal government still has a stockpile of Covid-19 vaccines that it has purchased, Jha said the transition to vaccine expiration through the mainstream health care system could be accelerated if the Food and Drug Administration approves a new formulation of vaccines to tackle a new problem. stress of the disease.
Jha repeatedly told reporters that the White House will need money from Congress to continue protecting people from Covid-19. He said he is concerned about a reduction in test production capacity as the government does not buy supplies, but he did not say he will do anything else to try to get rid of lawmakers who have ignored previous requests for money from the White House to shake.
“I feel like we’ve been very clear with Congress about needs,” Jha said. “We will continue to communicate clearly with Congress, but also always make sure we do whatever it takes to protect Americans.”