President Joe Biden has pledged 500 million free virus tests to combat the omicron surge in the United States

President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that the government would provide 500 million free rapid tests, increase support for hospitals under strain, and redouble vaccination and boosting efforts in order to combat the omicron variant that is sweeping the country.

Biden detailed major changes to his COVID-19 winter plan in remarks at the White House on Tuesday, his hand forced by the arrival of the fast-spreading variant, the properties of which scientists do not yet fully understand.

Nonetheless, his message was clear: the winter holidays could be normal for the vaccinated while potentially dangerous for the unvaccinated. His appeals are not political, he stressed. He mentioned that former President Donald Trump had his booster shot, and he stated that it is Americans’ “patriotic duty” to get vaccinated.

“It’s the only thing we can do,” the president said. “Omicron is a serious and potentially lethal business for people who have not been immunised.” Biden chastised people on social media and on cable TV for making false statements in order to discourage people from getting vaccinated.

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