Biden Receives Updated Covid Booster and Urges Americans to Follow Suit

While many younger, healthier Americans already have significant protection against Covid-19 from past vaccinations and recent Omicron infections, health officials have said the new shots most likely broaden immune defenses in those who receive them. The Biden administration has been concentrating its messaging on older people, who remain more vulnerable to severe cases of the disease. On Tuesday, Mr. Biden also called for businesses and schools to help Americans get boosted.

Mr. Biden’s comments on the dangers posed by the virus have zigzagged in recent weeks. He declared in a television interview last month that the pandemic was “over,” a comment that White House aides argued was meant to convey that the nation had exited the most dire phase of the fight against the virus.

Asked on Tuesday whether Covid-19 remained a national emergency, Mr. Biden said that “it’s a necessity to deal with, making sure it doesn’t become one.” But he also implored Congress to provide more funding for the federal pandemic response, suggesting that the administration would need to continue developing and buying more advanced treatments and vaccines to keep pace with the fast-changing virus.

“Some of our friends in Congress say we don’t need Covid funding, or they say there’s really no reason that the government should be paying for that,” Mr. Biden said. “I strongly disagree — strongly disagree. This is a global health emergency. If we really want to put Covid behind us, we have to keep up the fight together.”

Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the White House’s Covid-19 coordinator, told reporters that the lack of additional money had forced the federal government to make trade-offs. The administration chose to fund vaccines and treatments at the expense of tests and personal protective equipment, he said at a White House briefing.

“We went into this winter without adequate stockpiles of either,” he said of tests and personal protective equipment.

About 350 people are dying from Covid-19 each day in the United States, far lower than the pandemic’s peaks, though Dr. Jha said the disease remained the third-leading cause of death in the country. Mr. Biden portrayed the virus as a more manageable threat, as deaths have become more preventable with vaccines and treatments like Paxlovid, an antiviral medication.

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