Feds invest $1.7 billion in fight against COVID variants

White House officials unveil new strategy

White House announces $1.7B investment in fighting COVID variants
White House announces $1.7B investment in fighting COVID variants

WASHINGTON, D.C.The Biden Administration announced Friday a massive investment in the fight against COVID-19 variants.

With new strains of the virus thought be driving the surge in many states -- including Michigan -- it’s a step toward preventing future variants from taking hold.

“We are announcing a $1.7 billion investment to bolster the ability of the CDC and state and local public health departments to monitor, track, and defeat emerging threats,” said White House advisor Andy Slavitt. “Whether it’s COVID-19 variants today, or other viruses in the future.”

That funding will dramatically boost genomic sequencing, the testing that allows scientists to quickly spot changes in the virus that could be dangerous.

On the vaccine front, more than one third of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the vaccine and one fifth of Americans are now fully vaccinated.

“If you have not been vaccinated, I want to encourage you to do so with one of the available vaccines as soon as you can,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “Widespread vaccination is the only way we will ultimately move past this pandemic.”

Walensky said it’s essential for the Unite States to help others too.

“We have a responsibility to vaccinate the rest of the world, both from a humanitarian standpoint as well as from a global health security standpoint, to ensure that we don’t have further variants that threaten both the rest of the world as well as the United States,” Walensky said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci commented on news that the Pfizer vaccine may require a booster shot after 12 months, which could include an update to better fight the South African variant.

“There are already clinical trials looking at both the safety of it obviously, but as well as whether or not a booster wild type versus a boost of variant-specific increases the ability of the antisera to ultimately neutralize both the wild type and the variant,” Fauci said.

Walensky also announced the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet April 23 to discuss the current pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and provide recommendations to the CDC on its use.

About the Authors:

Kimberly Gill joined the Local 4 News team in November 2014. She was named Personality of the Year in 2009 by the Ohio Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame. She’s also a two-time Emmy winner.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.