White House releases new COVID-19 strategy
The United States White House has issued a new national novel coronavirus (COVID-19) strategy with four main goals: protect against and treat COVID-19; prepare for new variants; prevent educational and economic shutdowns; and continue to lead the effort to vaccinate the world and save lives.
The 96-page document entitled, “National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan” is an update to President Joe Biden’s strategy issued upon taking office in 2021. According to the plan, “President Biden will not accept just ‘living with COVID’ any more than we accept ‘living with’ cancer, Alzheimer’s, or AIDS.” The document explained that the administration “will continue our work to stop the spread of the virus, blunt it’s impact on those who get infected, and deploy new treatments to dramatically reduce the occurrence of severe COVID-19 disease and deaths.”
The plan pointed to investing more funds in providing treatments such as pills and monoclonal antibodies; to enhancing testing supply; to providing resources that guard against and prepare for new variants; and continuing to fight the virus abroad.
To protect against and treat COVID-19, the strategy outlined how the administration will work on initiatives including:
- Launching an effort to vaccinate the country’s youngest children, once the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a vaccine for that age group;
- Ensuring that Americans – of all ages – can get the protection of an effective vaccine;
- Increasing American manufacturing capacity to reliably produce an additional one billion vaccine doses a year and accelerating research and development of a single COVID-19 vaccine that protects against SARS-CoV-2 and all its variants, as well as previous SARS-origin viruses.
- Continuing vaccination outreach and education efforts and combating misinformation and disinformation.
- Launching a nationwide “Test to Treat” initiative for easily accessible treatment by visiting “one-stop” locations to get free tests and free treatment pills.
- Prioritizing protections for immunocompromised people, as well as taking new actions to protect individuals with disabilities and older adults.
To prepare for new variants, the administration will tackle a variety of initiatives including:
- Improving data collection, sequencing, and wastewater surveillance capabilities to identify and detect new emerging variants;
- Supporting new FDA processes to expedite regulatory review of variant-specific versions of vaccines and treatments so they can be quickly accessed if needed;
- Providing at-home tests, antiviral pills, and masks for the general population.
To prevent economic and educational shutdowns, the administration plans to take action on a number of strategies, including:
- Giving schools and businesses guidance, tests, and supplies to stay open, including tools that will help ventilation and air filtration.
- Providing paid sick leave to workers who need to miss work due to COVID-19 infection, whether that’s for themselves or a loved one.
- Updating guidance for employers to ensure safer workplaces.
In their aim to continue to lead the effort to vaccinate the world, the Biden administration plans to leverage the vaccination donation model to donate 1.2 billion doses to countries in need. They also plan to solve the oxygen crisis and make emergency supplies widely available.
According to the document, 215 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated and two-thirds of eligible adults have gotten their booster shot against COVID-19.