- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 18, 2022

The U.S. will pivot toward the “commercialization” of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests in the coming year instead of a scenario in which the government is the main purchaser, according to the White House virus coordinator.

Tests are available commercially through pharmacies but the government has regularly purchased vaccines for initial courses and booster campaigns, offering them for free at clinics and pharmacies.

Also, the government secured a tranche of reformulated boosters for this fall.

Yet Congress is reluctant to authorize billions in new funding for COVID-19 supplies and emergency coverage rules around the products will end at some point.

President Biden says he takes COVID-19 seriously but is trying to treat it as a manageable disease, as other maladies are treated with products on the commercial market.

“My hope is that in 2023, you’re going to see the commercialization of almost all of these products. Some of that is actually going to begin this fall, in the days and weeks ahead. You’re going to see commercialization of some of these things,” Mr. Biden’s COVID-19 coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha, said at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation event on Tuesday.

Yahoo! News, which reported the comments, noted that the shift could be tied to the end of the public health emergency on COVID-19. The designation ends Oct. 13 but could be extended for 60 days.

Once it ends, government insurers programs and insurers will have to sort out how the products are covered and what kind of copays beneficiaries must dole out.

Moderna, which manufactures one of the leading vaccines in the U.S., said it is working toward the shift to the commercial market.

“The commercial organization has already engaged with commercial payers and the channel, both channel distributors as well as key pharmacies, in anticipation of this shift. Internationally, we expect public health authorities to remain key purchasers of vaccines but we are also identifying markets where there may be a private commercial market as well,” Arpa Garay, chief commercial officer at Moderna, said in a recent earnings call.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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