From 2023, there will be no free COVID-19 vaccines for Americans. The US federal government may opt for full commercialization of COVID-19 vaccines and other oral antiviral medicines.
The US federal government has played the central coordinating role in buying, distributing, and ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and tests.
Today, more than three in four Americans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot; therapeutics are available within 5 miles of 90% of Americans; and testing is readily accessible. Daily COVID-19 deaths are down by nearly 90% since President Biden took office and severe illness is avoidable for most people as a result of the free vaccines and therapeutics.
"While the federal government has been pleased to play this role, we have always known that we would not be in this business forever. We have always intended to transition this work to the commercial market and have been planning for that transition for some time now." said, Dawn O’Connell, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
The Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response has not received additional funds for the past six months from Congress to continue procuring and distributingCOVID-19 vaccines which increased the chances of commercialization of COVID-19 vaccines in the USA.
In fact, additional COVID-19 funding continues to be urgently needed for a range of critical response needs, including the development of next-generation vaccines, therapeutics, and tests. But, as the disease weakened, the federal government seems less interested in funding.
In terms of commercialization planning, additional funding would allow for an orderly wind down of the federal government’s procurement and distribution programs to ensure that all have access to these needed interventions while the commercial market ramps up.
HHS has procured over 170 million updated COVID-19 boosters for a vaccination campaign this fall and winter, pending Food and Drug Administration authorization and action from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As early as January 2023, the Administration anticipates no longer having federal funds to purchase or distribute vaccines and will need to transition these activities to the commercial market, similar to seasonal flu or other commercially available vaccines.
Earlier this month, HHS successfully transitioned Lilly's bebtelovimab, a monoclonal antibody treatment, to the commercial marketplace. They may use this experience to apply to future transitions of therapeutics.
It is expected that other medications will also go commercialized such as Evusheld as soon as early 2023, followed by the oral antiviral Lagevrio sometime in the first or second quarter of next year, and Paxlovid in mid-2023.