The United States is running out of money to fund the Biden administration’s goal of vaccinating millions of people across the world against COVID-19 by the middle of next year, according to a new report.
In September, White House officials revealed it would take at least $3 billion this year and $7 billion next year to fund the effort, which is being overseen by the US Agency for International Development.
USAID has heavily relied on $1.6 billion in funds from the American Rescue Plan, enacted in March, in vowing to ensure deployment and administration of vaccines to 70 percent of the world’s population by mid-2022.
However, officials are now warning the US will not be able to meet its commitments without more funding, Politico reported Monday, citing two agency officials with direct knowledge of the matter.
The officials claimed that USAID has either already used the money from the American Rescue Plan or set it aside for several months into 2022 to help nations prepare to receive and distribute the vaccines.
The agency emphasized to the outlet that it is “not taking our foot off the gas in this effort” and will continue to assess what is needed to continue the work next year.
USAID is the chief US agency supervising deployment of vaccines to COVAX — the global vaccine equity program co-directed by the World Health Organization — and individual countries across the globe.
Officials assisting in the work are concerned the effort could halt in the spring if additional funding is not provided, allowing for newer and more transmissible variants of COVID-19 to emerge and spread.
Addressing the issue has acquired a new urgency due to reports that China’s COVID-19 vaccine fails to provide adequate protection against the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
USAID is reportedly looking at several options to find the funding, including taking money from other agency programs and working with Congress for legislation to provide specific funds.
“We can’t do what we’re supposed to do if we have no money to do it,” one of the USAID officials said. “And we shouldn’t pull on the money we already have set aside for other humanitarian efforts. Without more money, the vaccination campaign will begin to slow significantly.”
Additional funding to the tune of around $580 million has been provided to world health organizations to support the global coronavirus response — including UNICEF, which has worked alongside USAID in the distribution of vaccines.
USAID Administrator Samantha Power has announced $315 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan will be used in that effort.
Last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the administration has “the resources” to get people vaccinated and make the doses available.
USAID did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.