President Biden formally ends the national emergency for COVID-19

With the emergency declaration lifted, the costs and availability of vaccines may change.

President Biden formally ends the national emergency for COVID-19
Rogelio V. Solis / AP

President Biden has signed a bill into law that ends the national state of emergency over COVID-19.

That condition lasted for more than three years. Then-President Donald Trump declared a state of national emergency on March 13, 2020, two days after the World Health Organization declared a global COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then, COVID has caused more than 1.1 million deaths in the U.S., and the CDC estimates 1 in 13 people are living with "long COVID," experiencing symptoms that have been known to last months or years after they’re first infected.

A person uses an oxygen monitor.

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Some COVID policies are expected to change now that the state of emergency has ended. Insurers will no longer be required to cover the cost of COVID tests, for example, and certain reporting on COVID test results and immunzation rates may be relaxed.

But it’s not yet clear what the end of the formal state of emergency means for COVID vaccination measures.

We may see some shift in vaccination rates, as the FDA has not yet recommended recurring boosters for the whole U.S. population going forward. The body will meet later in April to discuss recommendations specifically for high-risk groups like the immunocompromised and those over 65.

Ending the emergency will not immediately affect vaccine costs, either, but it means the government will no longer be paying to buy and distribute new doses — costs for new boosters may fall on insurers and other buyers instead.

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

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