Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are prepared for shipment at the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch, Mississippi, United States, on December 20, 2020.
Paul Sancya | Reuters
The $ 900 billion coronavirus aid package agreed by lawmakers on Sunday evening provides between $ 8 billion and $ 9 billion to fund vaccine distribution, at least $ 2 billion more than earlier bills.
The funding appears to exceed the $ 6 billion target set by the Trump administration and could meet demand from national organizations representing local health officials, which have stated that at least $ 8.4 billion is required to carry out the massive Vaccination campaign are required.
Adequate funding for vaccine distribution has been a major priority for President-elect Joe Biden, who has pledged to oversee the administration of 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines in his first 100 days in office. Biden warned earlier this month that without adequate funding for distribution, these efforts could “slow and stall”.
The text of the stimulus package has not yet been released, although both Democrats and Republicans have issued summaries of the legislation. The two versions differ slightly in the details of the financing.
According to the executive summary by Republican Whip Secretary Steve Scalise, R-La., The bill provides $ 8 billion for vaccine distribution. The Democratic summary says the bill will target “nearly $ 9 billion”.
The summaries also show that Congress will allocate between $ 20 billion and $ 22 billion to states to help with testing and other Covid-19 reduction programs. According to both parties, US $ 20 billion will be allocated to procure vaccines. The GOP summary states that these vaccines “will be available free of charge to anyone who needs them”.
Legislation, expected to be passed Monday, comes as the nation struggles to deliver millions of doses of vaccine to prevent the harm caused by Covid-19.
The first doses of the second vaccine approved by Moderna by US regulators are due to be given on Monday. The first doses of a vaccine manufactured by Pfizer were given a week ago.
Health officials have stated that they are working to provide vaccinations to up to 20 million Americans by the first week of January.
The public health lightning bolt comes as the US enters a devastating winter and nearly 3,000 Americans die from the disease every day. According to the Johns Hopkins University, more than 300,000 people died from it in the United States this year.
The deal reached over the weekend came after months of legislative delays regarding the size and scope of the aid package.
The key provisions will provide economic relief for households and small businesses, including direct payments of $ 600 to most Americans, an additional 11 weeks of federal unemployment benefits, and a $ 284 billion allocation to the paycheck protection program.
Democrats, who have pushed for more spending to fight the crisis, have said the $ 900 billion deal is just the beginning and that they will push for more legislation after Biden takes office.
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