Midweek update

As we approach the September 17 of the FDA advisory committee meeting on the COVID-19 booster, the Wall Street Journal reports that

The Food and Drug Administration said vaccines cleared in the U.S. currently provide sufficient protection against severe disease and death from Covid-19 without additional doses, potentially complicating the Biden administration’s deliberations over the need for booster shots.

The FDA released the findings Wednesday in a report analyzing data submitted by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE as part of their request for authorization for their vaccine to be given as a booster shot in people 16 years and older. 

An outside panel of scientific advisers will review the FDA report on Friday, along with a companion analysis from Pfizer and other information, as part of a discussion over who needs booster shots and when.

In yesterday’s blog post, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis Collins tells us that

There’s no question that vaccines are making a tremendous difference in protecting individuals and whole communities against infection and severe illness from SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. And now, there’s yet another reason to get the vaccine: in the event of a breakthrough infection, people who are fully vaccinated also are substantially less likely to develop Long COVID Syndrome, which causes brain fog, muscle pain, fatigue, and a constellation of other debilitating symptoms that can last for months after recovery from an initial infection. 

These important findings published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases are the latest from the COVID Symptom Study 

NIH announced today awarding

nearly $470 million to build a national study population of diverse research volunteers and support large-scale studies on the long-term effects of COVID-19. The NIH REsearching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) Initiative(link is external) made the parent award to New York University (NYU) Langone Health, New York City, which will make multiple sub-awards to more than 100 researchers at more than 30 institutions and serves as the RECOVER Clinical Science Core. This major new award to NYU Langone supports new studies of COVID-19 survivors and leverages existing long-running large cohort studies with an expansion of their research focus. This combined population of research participants from new and existing cohorts, called a meta-cohort, will comprise the RECOVER Cohort. This funding was supported by the American Rescue Plan.

On a related note STAT News informs us that

A company is launching out of Stanford University on Wednesday to tackle one of the most enduring challenges of digitized medicine: How do you apply data from past patients to inform the care of new ones?

The company, named Atropos Health, is seeking to commercialize a consultation service designed to use mountains of existing data to quickly answer a wide range of pressing questions, such as which drug is most effective for certain kinds of cancer patients, or when antibiotics can be safely discontinued in the treatment of a particular infection.

That may seem ho-hum in a world where search engines enable instantaneous information retrieval in so many domains. But the health care industry has failed to harness that power, hamstrung by a lack of quality digital data and wary of the consequences of applying an answer incorrectly to the care of complicated human beings.

Good luck to Atropos.

In other healthcare news

  • Health Payer Intelligence usefully discusses how payers can cultivate consumer-centered digital innovation. Fierce Health reports on Blue Cross licensee Carefirst’s release of such an innovation. The innovation in this case is “a new virtual primary care practice called CloseKnit. CloseKnit will offer a slew of healthcare services in a virtual-first delivery model, including preventive care, urgent care, behavioral health care, care coordination and insurance navigation. Services are available through an app and are built to be affordable and transparently priced, according to the announcement. In-person care is provided through referrals to local providers.”
  • The Health Affairs Blog offers its insights into the proposed No Surprises Act rule on air ambulance and broker compensation reporting and HHS’s role in enforcing the new law.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services announced today that “more than 2.8 million people newly gained access to affordable health care under the Biden-Harris Administration through the 2021 Special Enrollment Period (SEP) on HealthCare.gov and State-based Marketplaces.. With the gains made during the SEP, there are now a record-breaking 12.2 million people enrolled in the federal and state marketplaces.”
  • Govexec tells us that “The Government Employees Health Association announced last week that federal employees enrolled in their Federal Employees Health Benefits Program insurance plans can receive a $75 credit on their wellness accounts, which are used to pay for health expenses like copays and prescriptions, until Dec. 31. Previously, the deadline to get the first dose of the vaccine was Sept. 6 for the incentive program, although proof of full vaccination was still required by the end of 2021. Now, in order to be eligible for the cash incentive, GEHA enrollees have until Dec. 31 to get their first dose and request the reward.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *