COVID-19 Vaccine update and more

Last night, the FDA granted Moderna emergency use authorization for administering its mRNA based COVID-19 vaccine to Americans aged 18 and older. About an hour ago, the CDC’s Advisory Committee seconded this decision which means that health plans, including FEHB plans, must begin to provide in-network and out-of-network coverage for administration of the Moderna vaccine on January 3, 2021. That is certainly good news.

Last night, as CBS News reports, the Senate joined the House of Representatives in approving a two day extension of the continuing resolution funding the federal government, and the President signed the resolution into law. The Hill adds this afternoon that

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Democratic House members during a conference call Saturday that a deal is within reach as soon as negotiators hammer out an agreement on language being pushed by Sen. Pat Toomey(R-Pa.) to wind down the Federal Reserve credit lending facilities. Pelosi told colleagues that the “good news” is “we’re right within reach” of resolving that disagreement.

In other news —

  • The American Medical Association offers advice on which masks work best in warding off COVID-19.
  • The federal government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) offered updated guidance today on the SolarWinds backdoor hack.
  • Bloomberg provided this interesting observation on the scope of this hack:

At least 200 organizations, including government agencies and companies around the world, have been hacked as part of a suspected Russian cyber-attack that implanted malicious code in a widely used software program, said a cybersecurity firm and three people familiar with ongoing investigations.

The number of actual hacking victims has been one of many unanswered questions surrounding the cyber-attack, which used a backdoor in SolarWinds Corp.’s Orion network management software as a staging ground for further attacks.

As many as 18,000 SolarWinds’ customers received a malicious update that included the backdoor, but the number that was actually hacked — meaning the attackers used the backdoor to infiltrate computer networks — is likely to be far fewer.