White House COVID coordinator: ‘This virus is going to be with us forever’

During the White House press briefing on Friday, COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha urged unvaccinated Americans to get vaccinated, saying, “This virus is going to be with us forever.”

Video Transcript

- Dr. Jha, the CDC says that 1/3 of Americans still haven't been fully vaccinated. And you mentioned, I think it was, to "New York Times" that Congress still hasn't allocated enough funding for boosters into the fall. What is your message to Congress if they don't allocate funding for boosters in the fall? And also, what's your message to Americans who still refuse to get vaccinated? And I have another question after that.

ASHISH JHA: Yeah, so let's start with talking to Americans. I think what we're seeing across the country is there are a lot of infections. But when people are vaccinated and boosted, they tend to have far less serious illness. This virus is going to be with us forever. It's really, really important that people build up their immunity against this virus. And so I've been very clear for years-- I mean, two years, or a year and a half, I guess, since we've had vaccines-- that getting vaccinated is one of the best ways that people have to protect themselves.

To Congress, you know, what I would say is Congress has been a great partner to this administration in terms of funding the COVID response, making sure that vaccines and therapeutics are widely available. And that's one of the reasons we have plenty of vaccines right now. But the problem is that we need to continue this effort. The reason we have seen so much progress is because we've had the resources to do the things that are necessary for the American people. And if we take our foot off the gas and stop all this work that we are doing, we will slide backwards. And we do not want that.

And we can do a lot in the administration, but we need funding to do all those things. And Congress is the part of our government that allocates funding. So my message to Congress is, it's really important to continue to protect the American people. As we get into the fall and winter, we will need more resources. We need the resources now to prepare for the fall and winter. And it's really important that Congress step up and do its part.

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