The Daily Beast

Omicron Is Moving Fast. Congress Is Moving Slow with Pandemic Prep.

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty

When the new Omicron strain of COVID-19 emerged last week, it hinted at the exact worst-case scenario that lawmakers and public-health advocates have been hoping to mitigate through action in Washington.

For months, they have pushed Congress to approve a huge pot of funding—at least $30 billion—to help strengthen science and public-health infrastructure, in hopes of giving the United States a head start when another pandemic emerges.

But this same stubborn pandemic is making those long-term investments look like matters of shorter-term survival. Scientists are concerned that the Omicron variant—which has an unusually high number of mutations and is already feared to be dramatically more transmissible than the Delta variant—could derail a shaky global COVID recovery.

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