As pandemic becomes endemic, funding for COVID-19 treatments could be costly for Texans
AUSTIN (KXAN) — President Joe Biden said the COVID-19 pandemic was “over” in an interview with 60 Minutes last week. He has since clarified the pandemic has shifted to a new stage.
It’s been evident for Austin businesses like Waterloo Records that we’re not in the same spot we were even earlier this year. John T Kunz, the president and owner, said “business has been brisk” for his shop on South Lamar.
Meanwhile, Dr. Mark Casanova with the Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 task force said, this is likely to be a transition between pandemic and endemic.
“An endemic occurs when, in essence, the wildfire is transitioning into burning embers, they’re still out there, there are still infections, there’s still people getting sick, but you just simply don’t have the sheer volume,” Casanova said.
He also noted the medical community has had time to “play catch up,” enlisting vaccines and therapeutics to help fight the virus more effectively.
While there is no real marker for what qualifies as a pandemic versus an endemic, Casanova said federal and state funding for COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics is eventually going to run out as a result of the lessening severity of the pandemic. It’s why he encourages getting vaccinated now, while vaccines are still largely free.
Monoclonal antibodies could be upward of tens of thousands of dollars, he said.
“These are very costly medications, that again, have saved many lives and was very appropriate for the government to pick up that tab, but eventually, that coverage will run out,” Casanova said. “Here in the state of Texas, with as many uninsured Texans as we have, that’s certainly something that, that should be of a concern. All the more reason to run out and get a free vaccine.”
While the pandemic may be shuffling to an endemic, it doesn’t mean COVID-19 is going away.
“I know Biden said that it’s over but just last month myself and three other people here went to a convention in our industry and two of them came back with COVID,” Kunz said.