WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Biden administration wants to get Paxlovid, the COVID-19 antiviral pill, into the hands of more Americans.
On Tuesday, White House COVID Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha detailed the latest effort to expand access to the COVID antiviral pill.
“Paxlovid is a really important step in our ability to fight this pandemic,” Jha said.
The Biden administration says it will work with Pfizer to accelerate the production and distribution of Paxlovid to pharmacies across the country.
“It has an enormously beneficial impact, reduces hospitalizations by more than 90%,” Jha said.
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The free antiviral drugs will be available at more than 30,000 locations. The administration believes greater availability will boost awareness and use.
A lot more people are eligible and would benefit than I think people think,” Jha said.
But while the administration has the funding for this first order, they may need more money from Congress to purchase more.
“Given our federal budget, it’s a small amount to ask that we provide money for these therapeutics,” Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.
Schumer says additional COVID funding is a necessity in the U.S to prevent Americans from going back into lockdown.
“Senate Republicans should work with us to quickly pass another round of COVID funding. It’s not more complicated than that,” Schumer said.
But Republicans like Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) aren’t sure the funding is needed.
“What’s the administration going to spend it on?” Kennedy asked.
“There’s so much money sloshing around in the federal government right now, that if you look carefully, we need to be repurposing,” Braun said.
Without the funding, the administration warns the U.S. will fall behind not just with the pills but other COVID treatments.