The public health emergency for COVID-19 in the US will end on Thursday after more than three years, though the virus still is active and evolving. The transitions means changes to the purchasing and administering of tests, treatments, and vaccines. Congress is looking to better prepare for a possible resurgence of the virus or another public health emergency. Rebecca Fischer, Texas A-land-M University assistant professor of epidemiology, predicts that infections, hospitalizations, and deaths will mirror earlier trends. The change in status requires officials to look back at their learnings from the pandemic. She advises that the end of the pandemic should include an inventory of resources, infrastructure, staffing, and training to better prepare for future crises.
In regards to vaccination rates and testing, the government will continue to facilitate access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments like Paxlovid. COVID-19 tests and vaccinates will now depend on an individual’s health insurance coverage status. When the public health emergency ends, the CDC will lose much COVID-19 data as they will stop collecting the percentage of positive results and frequency of hospitalizations from the virus. The Senate is working to reauthorize the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act.
Lastly, the senator said that reauthorization should improve on the experiences learned from previous mistakes during this pandemic and to ensure that plans remain flexible enough to address threats beyond a pandemic.