Merkley: ‘Shame on us’ if US stops COVID funding

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – While cases of COVID-19 are dropping across the US, countries in Europe are once again beginning to see a rise.

The BA.2 variant has driven a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in several countries around the world over the past few weeks, including China, Australia and much of Europe. The BA.2 variant of COVID-19, also known as “stealth omicron,” has become the dominant variant of the coronavirus around the world, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. The omicron subvariant now accounts for 75% of coronavirus cases globally.

Earlier this week the White House warned funding to fight the pandemic will run out if a new bill isn’t passed. COVID funding was taken out of a broader spending bill and is now on its own.

On Sunday, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley said funding for the pandemic is still desperately needed.

“We’ve got to be prepared with more test kits, we’ve got to be prepared with more therapeutics, we’ve got to be prepared to rapidly develop new vaccines that respond to more effectively to new mutations,” Merkley said. “That money is extremely important. Woe is us or shame on us if we fail to prepare for the possibility of a fourth mutation.”

BA.2 has yet to become dominant in the U.S. It currently accounts for about 23% of COVID-19 cases nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.