Tuesday’s Tidbits

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Lots of updates from the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) today

  • “Today, CDC is updating our recommendation for when many people can receive a booster shot, shortening the interval from 6 months to 5 months for people who received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.  This means that people can now receive an mRNA booster shot 5 months after completing their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series.  The booster interval recommendation for people who received the J&J vaccine (2 months) or the Moderna vaccine (6 months), has not changed.”
  • The CDC released a study of over 40,000 COVID- vaccinated pregnant women.

In a retrospective cohort of >40,000 pregnant women, COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy was not associated with preterm birth or small-for-gestational-age at birth overall, stratified by trimester of vaccination, or number of vaccine doses received during pregnancy, compared with unvaccinated pregnant women.

These data support the safety of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy. CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccination for women who are pregnant, recently pregnant, who are trying to become pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future.

  • As expected, the CDC revised and lengthened its revised COVID quarantine and isolation policy by, e.g., adding “at home testing when available,” right at the time that at home COVID test are hard to purchase. What’s more, the Wall Street Journal reports the prices for those tests are jumping at Walmart and Kroger because the White House curiously let a price support program lapse. Govexex informs about how government agencies had been struggling to implement this CDC guidance even before today’s changes.

Also from the Omicron front, Medscape tells us about a British study finding that

Protection against hospitalization from COVID-19 vaccines is “good” against the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, an analysis has found.

The risk for adults of being admitted to hospital with Omicron was approximately one third (Hazard Ratio 0.33, 95% CI 0.30 to 0.37) of that for the Delta variant, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said in a technical briefing.

The analysis also found that the risk of presentation to emergency care, or being admitted to hospital, with Omicron – whether testing for symptomatic or asymptomatic infection – was approximately half of that for Delta (Hazard Ratio 0.53, 95% CI 0.50 to 0.57).

From the Affordable Care Act front – –

  • The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans announced that “The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the proposed 2023 actuarial value (AV) calculator and methodology.” This should be useful when preparing FEHB 2023 benefit and rate proposals.
  • The Labor Department’s Employee Benefit Security Administration announced that it is seeking speakers to talk at an ACA listening session about the ACA’s provider non-discrimination provision, known as Section 2706. In Division BB of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, Congress tasked the ACA regulators with adopting a rule interpreting Section 2706. The listening session bears on that effort.

From the healthcare business front

  • Fierce Healthcare tells us that “Centene Corporation has completed its acquisition of Magellan Health, the insurer announced Tuesday. The $2.2 billion deal closes exactly one year after its announcement on Jan. 4, 2021. The combination will create one of the country’s largest behavioral health platforms, including 41 million unique members. * * * In addition to its behavioral health platform, Magellan will add 5.5 million members to Centene’s government program, 16 million pharmacy members and 2 million pharmacy benefit management members.”
  • Healthcare Dive reports that “HCA Healthcare has purchased the largest urgent care chain in Florida, MD Now Urgent Care, the health system said Tuesday. The deal closed at the end of 2021 for an undisclosed sum. The deal gives HCA 59 urgent care centers in a state where it already has a significant presence, with 47 hospitals.” 

From the tidbits department

  • STAT News interviews Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “[2022] will have to be a year where we transition to working alongside the pandemic, as opposed to being dominated by the pandemic,” Dr. Marks told STAT in a wide-ranging interview. Let’s hope so.
  • Medpage Today brings us up to date on Biogen’s Aduhelm saga and considers 2022 biggest hurdles for heathcare in the U.S.
  • The new acting National Institutes of Health director Dr. Larry Tabak is continuing the tradition of writing a weekly director’s blog. This week’s issue concerns science’s 2021 breakthroughs, e.g., the COVID pills.

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