The United States government anticipates its supply of COVID-19 vaccinations and antiviral medicines to run out within the next year and is ready to sell them on the commercial market, according to the Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday, Reuters reported.
According to a blog post written by Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell, President Joe Biden’s administration expects to run out of federal funding for buying and distributing COVID-19 vaccines by January, despite having already purchased over 170 million doses for a booster campaign later this year.
According to O’Connell, the government has obtained enough of Pfizer’s (PFE.N) antiviral medicine Paxlovid to supply the tablets until mid-2023, but alternative therapies developed by Merck & Co (MRK.N) and AstraZeneca (AZN.L) are expected to be commercialised sooner.
“Our goal is to transition procurement and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics from a federally managed system to the commercial marketplace in a thoughtful, well-coordinated manner that leaves no one behind,” she wrote following a meeting with private sector representatives.
According to current forecasts, AstraZeneca’s preventive medicine Evusheld will be depleted in early 2023, followed by Merck’s antiviral tablet Lagevrio (molnupiravir) in the first or second quarter.
Because of the absence of extra Congressional money, supplies will run out sooner than projected, according to O’Connell.
“We have always intended to transition this work to the commercial market and have been planning for that transition for some time now,” she said. “Unfortunately, the timeline to make the transition has accelerated over the past six months without additional funds from Congress to support this work,” she said.
She said that funding is still required for the development of new vaccinations, treatments, and testing, as well as for transition management.
On Monday, the government blamed a shortage of resources when it announced that Americans will no longer be able to request free at-home COVID tests from its COVIDTests.gov website beginning next week.