Friday Stats and More

From the Centers for Disease Control’s COVID Data Tracker website, the FEHBlog’s weekly chart of new COVID cases for 2021 (using Wednesday as the last day of the week) is trending down:

The CDC’s chart of weekly chart of new hospital admissions for COVID is also trending down.

The FEHBlog’s weekly chart of new COVID deaths, a lagging indicator, also is beginning to trend down.

Meanwhile COVID vaccinations are up according to the FEHBlog’s chart (also based on CDC statistics)

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The number of COVID vaccines administered in the United States topped 400 million today. Medscape adds that

The number of Americans receiving booster shots is now outpacing those receiving their first or second initial vaccine doses.

The jump in booster shots during the past week has led to a modest increase in COVID-19 vaccinations in October, NBC News reported.

From Sept. 30 to Oct. 6, about 6.7 million total shots were administered, according to CDC data. Among those, about 2.7 million were booster shots, 2 million were second doses, and 2 million were first doses.

The FEHBlog got his Pfizer booster at a local CVS pharmacy last evening.

Here’s a link to the CDC’s Weekly Interpretative Report of COVID statistics.

In other Delta variant news

  • Medscape explains why the COVID Mu variant fizzled.
  • Nature explains why no one was awarded a Nobel prize for the mRNA COVID vaccines this year.

If the vaccines are awarded a Nobel prize, the committee will need to make some difficult decisions about whom to recognize and for what, say scientists. “I’m not surprised they held their fire,” says David Naylor, a physician-scientist at the University of Toronto, Canada. He expects the committee to look past the academic and corporate teams that developed the vaccines, and instead focus on more foundational work, such as that underlying mRNA vaccines. But even there, it’s not clear-cut who the recipients ought to be. 

“I think the mRNA vaccines are obvious candidates,” agrees Arturo Casadevall, a microbiologist at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, who notes that the vaccines’ development has deep roots in several disciplines. “I can imagine the committee taking its time to sort out which contributions to recognize since many fields contributed to their deployment.”

Working all this out takes time, Hansson says. “We want to give credit to the right people. And for the right discovery,” he says. “So stay tuned.”

  • Govexec offers an update on the VA’s COVID vaccine mandate for its employees.

Friday marked the deadline for the vast majority of Veterans Affairs Department employees to complete their COVID-19 vaccination, though more than 45,000 have yet to demonstrate that they have done so. 

Those employees may eventually face disciplinary action, including being fired, but VA is giving them 10 more days to submit the requisite documentation or request an exemption. The 380,000 VA employees working in or near the health care field faced a deadline of Oct. 8 to receive their vaccines, about six weeks earlier than the rest of the federal workforce, due to the department issuing its own mandate independently of the one put in place by President Biden. 

About 88% of the impacted workforce has so far received a shot, according to data VA has collected. 

From the Federal Benefits Open Season front, OPM today issued its annual Significant FEHB Plan Changes for 2022 benefit administration letter together with a list of those changes and a Fast Facts sheet explaining what to do if your FEHB plan is no longer participating in your locale (or anywhere) for 2022.

The Federal Times interviews retired OPM official Reg Jones about conducting a self-assessment in preparation for the Federal Benefits Open Season.

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