Expert warns U.S. may face COVID-19 testing supply shortage
A mobile COVID-19 testing station set up on a sidewalk in New York City, U.S., May 31, 2022. /CFP

A mobile COVID-19 testing station set up on a sidewalk in New York City, U.S., May 31, 2022. /CFP

U.S. federal health officials are warning the country will encounter a shortage of COVID-19 testing supplies and risk being more dependent on foreign manufacturers if funding for the federal pandemic response cannot be replenished, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

Doctor Ashish K. Jha, the White House's COVID-19 response coordinator, warned against the consequences at a White House briefing about repurposing the funds for testing supplies for more vaccines and treatments as the talks in Congress about the funding have stalled.

The White House has asked Congress for $22.5 billion in emergency pandemic aid. However, Republicans will not agree to more than $10 billion, less than half what is needed.

Jha said $10 billion could compromise the country's commitment to testing manufacturers if the nation wants a consistent supply, especially in fall and winter when there's a possible infection increase.

"The U.S. government put in a lot of effort and resources into building up that domestic manufacturing," he said. "And what we're seeing is, day by day, week by week, that beginning to go away."

U.S. President Biden has pledged to provide Americans with a billion free at-home tests and required private insurers to cover eight free at-home tests.

However, Jha warns that the administration would be unable to maintain production without funding.

The U.S. currently has about 110,000 new COVID-19 infections daily on average, but the infections may be largely underestimated. The COVID-19 pandemic also highlighted a series of social issues in the U.S., such as a surge of hate crimes against people of Asian descent and widening inequality regarding access to health resources, including vaccines.

A new study in Policing: An International Journal revealed that COVID-19 was the leading cause of duty-related deaths among law enforcement officers in the U.S. in 2020.

About 62 percent of 295 duty-related law enforcement officers died due to COVID-19, according to 2020 data from the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund database.

The report also said 301 of the 458 officers killed in the line of duty in 2021 died from the virus.

Read More: COVID cases in U.S. may have been underrated by 30 times: NYC Study

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