Recession USA 2020
Covid-19 updates

$1.6 billion going toward coronavirus testing, sequencing, supplies, fed gov announces

An investment of $1.6 billion dollars in federal funding will improve coronavirus testing in schools and vulnerable communities, genomic sequencing to better identify variants, and testing materials that are still in short supply, White House officials announced.

The largest portion of funding, $650 million, will help create regional vaccine coordinating centers that will partner with labs to leverage testing capacity and help to reopen schools and test people in congregate living facilities, said Carole Johnson, White House COVID Response Team testing coordinator.

“These are places that typically don’t have the resources or the bandwidth to build partnerships with academic or commercial testing labs, and that’s where the government can be a facilitator,” Johnson said in a Wednesday briefing.

Nearly $200 million will help to expand genomic sequencing, which is the process that identifies coronavirus variants circulating in the country and can be used to track and stop the mutations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be able to sequence 25,000 samples a week with the funding, a threefold increase, according to Johnson.

“We’re quickly infusing targeted resources here because the time is critical when it comes to these fast moving variants,” Johnson said.

The United States still faces a shortage in testing supplies such as pipette tips and other raw materials, so the government is also putting up $115 million to surge domestic manufacturing.

Jeff Zients, White House coronavirus response coordinator, also announced additional supports for community vaccination including the deployment of nearly 4,000 federal personnel, National Guard and military members to serve as vaccinators and support community vaccination sites.

Vaccination efforts continue to ramp up nationwide, and important data on whether vaccines can blunt coronavirus transmission are starting to surface, according to the nation’s top infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Studies from abroad have indicated that vaccinated people with a breakthrough coronavirus infection have a lower viral load than those who have not yet been vaccinated, a good sign that transmission is likely diminished, Fauci said.

Moderna and Pfizer will also be taking a look at the viral load in vaccinated people versus those who have not been immunized, Fauci said.

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