Biden-Harris Administration Rolls Out Expanded COVID-19 Testing, Global Vaccination Efforts
This week, the Biden-Harris Administration detailed a series of actions intended to improve COVID-19 testing, support global COVID-19 vaccination efforts, and provide relief to impacted Americans. Below, these actions are summarized:
- Increased Weekly Supply: The Biden-Harris Administration announced it is increasing the weekly, minimum supply level of COVID-19 vaccines delivered to states, territories, and tribes to 13.5 million doses. This increase represents a 57 percent increase from when the Biden-Harris Administration took office. The Administration additionally announced it will be increasing its allotment of vaccine supply to pharmacies participating in the federal retail pharmacy program from one million doses to two million doses.
- Testing for Schools and Underserved Populations: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in partnership with the Department of Defense (DoD), will make a $650 million investment to expand COVID-19 testing availability for K-8 schools and underserved congregate settings, including homeless shelters. HHS will establish regional coordinating centers to organize the distribution of COVID-19 testing supplies and partner with laboratories across the country to process test specimens.
- Increasing Manufacturing of Testing Supplies: HHS and DoD will invest $815 million to increase domestic manufacturing of testing supplies and raw materials that have created shortage issues.
- Increasing Virus Genome Sequencing: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will invest nearly $200 million to identify, track, and mitigate emerging strains of SARS-CoV-2 through genome sequencing. This initial investment will increase CDC’s sequencing more than threefold from about 7,000 samples per week to approximately 25,000. The Administration notes the American Rescue Plan, as proposed by President Biden, would invest $50 billion to expand and support testing and invest in U.S. testing capacity to allow public health officials to track the virus in real time.
- COVAX Financing: The Biden-Harris Administration announced an initial contribution of $2 billion to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance for the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, a World Health Organization (WHO) initiative to support the access of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to 92 low- and middle-income countries. The U.S. will release an additional $2 billion for COVAX between 2021 and 2022 with the first $500 million being made available when existing donor pledges are fulfilled and initial doses of vaccines are delivered to specified countries. The Administration further calls on international governments to support COVAX and target urgent vaccine manufacturing, supply, and delivery needs of low- and middle-income countries.
- Housing Relief: In light of ongoing pandemic-related economic hardships, the Biden-Harris Administration announced it is extending the foreclosure moratorium for homeowners through June 30, 2021, extend the mortgage payment forbearance window until June 30, 2021, for borrowers who wish to request forbearance, and provide up to six months of additional mortgage payment forbearance for borrowers who entered forbearance on or before June 30, 2020. The Administration has also established a centralized resource for homeowners and renters to access housing assistance.