The Biden administration in the U.S. says it's going to stop buying COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostic tests as soon as this fall.
This means such products will no longer be free, and will only be available from a doctor or hospital.
Lee Seung-jae has the details.
White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said Tuesday, that the Biden administration will stop buying vaccines, treatments and tests as early as this fall, meaning such products will no longer be made available for free in the U.S.
Speaking at an event sponsored by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Dr. Jha said the administration has been planning for how to get past the crisis phase of the pandemic, and that the commercialization of related products will begin "this fall, in the days and weeks ahead."
A transition to availability through the regular healthcare system means that anyone in need of a vaccine, treatment, or diagnostic test would get it from a doctor or hospital.
Jha noted that the transition to commercialization is complicated, as it involves regulatory issues, market dynamic issues and equity issues, but the administration is working carefully and thoughtfully to get it right.
He also said that an upgrade COVID-19 vaccine that targets the BA.5 sub-variant could be available in the next three weeks.
This means that booster shots for the sub-variant that has become dominant in the U.S. and in other parts of the world could be available by early to mid-September.
However, he says while the booster shots are expected to sail relatively smoothly through vetting from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, any authorization hiccups could delay that release date.
The updated booster shots are made by both Moderna and Pfizer, and are known as "bivalent" shots.
This means they target both the original Omicron strain and the BA.5 sub-variant.
Lee Seung-jae, Arirang News.