Labcorp raises minimum wage to US$15 as government invests US$3 billion for covid-19 vaccines

USA – Laboratory Corp of America Holdings has increased the minimum hourly wage for U.S.-based employees to US$15 from US$10.95, joining several other companies in implementing new measures to retain staff amid a nationwide labor shortage.

With the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant and a nationwide labor shortage due to the pandemic, U.S. companies are forced to implement payment hikes to lure new employees and retain old ones.

Labcorp and peer Quest Diagnostics recently said the spread of the Delta variant led to an uptick in demand for their COVID-19 tests in July.

The diagnostic tests maker, which has more than 70,000 employees, said the new minimum wage for non-union employees is effective this month.

Meanwhile, a top USA health official has said the U.S. plans to invest US$3 billion in the vaccine supply chain as it continues to work to position itself as a leading supplier of vaccines for the world

The funding, which will begin to be distributed in the coming weeks, will focus on manufacturers of the inputs used in COVID-19 vaccine production as well as facilities that fill and package vaccine vials, White House COVID adviser Jeffrey Zients said during a news conference.

He added that areas of focus will include lipids, bioreactor bags, tubing, needles, syringes, and personal protective equipment. The White House has not yet selected specific companies to receive the funds.

U.S. demand for COVID-19 vaccines remains high as the White House prepares to begin offering a third booster shot to Americans later this month, pending a regulator greenlight.

The United States also plans to give hundreds of millions of shots to other countries during the remainder of the year.

Top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci added that he would not be surprised if a third dose became standard for COVID-19 vaccines that originally were expected to require two shots.

U.S. cases of COVID-19 have surged to a seven-day average of more than 150,000 per day, up from less than 10,000 in June, according to federal data, as the contagious new Delta variant continues to circulate.

The daily average of COVID-19 deaths has risen this week to more than 950 from around 900 last week, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said.

Fauci downplayed concerns about a new COVID-19 variant known as Mu, or B.1.621, that some scientists are concerned could be resistant to vaccines.

Even when you have variants that do diminish somewhat the efficacy of vaccines, the vaccines still are quite effective against variants of that type,” Fauci said.

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