Thursday Miscellany

Photo by Josh Mills on Unsplash

From the Omicron and siblings’ front,

The New York Times reports

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention loosened Covid-19 guidelines on Thursday, freeing schools and businesses from the onus of requiring unvaccinated people exposed to the virus to quarantine at home.

The changes are a sharp move away from measures such as social distancing requirements and quarantining, which had polarized much of the country, and effectively acknowledge the way many Americans have been navigating the pandemic for some time. The agency’s action comes as children across the country return to school and many offices have reopened.

“We know that Covid-19 is here to stay,” Greta Massetti, a C.D.C. epidemiologist, said at a news briefing on Thursday. “High levels of population immunity due to vaccination and previous infection, and the many tools that we have available to protect people from severe illness and death, have put us in a different place.” * * *

Instead of focusing on slowing transmission of the virus, the recommendations prioritize preventing severe illness. They emphasize the importance of vaccination and other prevention measures, including antiviral treatments and ventilation.

Here is a link to the new CDC guidance.

The Wall Street Journal looks into why Omicron continues to become more contagious over time, and MedPage Today discusses what the future holds for Covid vaccines.

From the unusual viruses front, Beckers Hospital Review tells us

“The manufacturer of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine, Bavarian Nordic, voiced concerns to federal health officials about efforts to expand vaccine supplies by allowing the administration of fractional doses, The Washington Post reported Aug. 10.

“Confirmed U.S. [monkey pox] cases have surpassed 10,000, according to CDC data updated Aug. 10. About a month ago, there were less than 1,000 reported cases nationwide,” and

The CDC may offer some New Yorkers an extra dose of the polio vaccine amid concerns that the virus is silently spreading through a community where the nation’s first polio case in nearly a decade was detected July 21, CNN reported.  * * * “We’re looking into all aspects of how to deal with this. At this point, we don’t have a definitive answer,” José Romero, MD, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told CNN.  The case, which was identified in an unvaccinated man, may be “just the very, very tip of the iceberg” and a sign that there “must be several hundred cases in the community circulating,” Dr. Romero said.

From the pricing transparency front, Fierce Healthcare brings us up to date on hospital compliance with its federal pricing transparency law and a new Colorado law that will hit the pocketbooks of non-compliant hospitals in that State.

From the judicial front, Healthcare Dive reports

A New York federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a surgeon’s legal challenge that sought to roll back key pieces of a federal law that protects patients from surprise out-of-network bills.

Judge Ann Donnelly ruled against the surgeon, finding that the law is constitutional, and dismissed the case for lack of standing and dismissed the surgeon’s request for a preliminary injunction.

Katie Keith, a lawyer and health policy expert at Georgetown University who tracks surprise billing litigation, called the ruling good news for consumers.

The lawsuit threatened to once again expose millions of patients to surprise out-of-network bills, Keith previously said in a Health Affairs report on the litigation.

The FEHBlog heartily agrees with Prof. Keith.

From the U.S. healthcare business front, Fierce Healthcare tells us

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will roll out a new family building and maternity support program head of open enrollment.

The insurer said Wednesday that the platform, launched in partnership with Maven Clinic, will allow members to access a personalized app that guides them through the family planning process, including pregnancy, postpartum and pediatrics. Users can follow multiple paths to parenthood based on their needs.

From the miscellany department

  • Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) announced a new prize competition from the Kidney Innovation Accelerator (KidneyX) that seeks to further the development of a fully functional bioartificial kidney. * * * Up to $10.5 million in funding will be split among up to nine (9) prize winners, including up to three (3) winners from Track One each receiving $1.5 million and up to six (6) winners from Track Two each receiving $1 million. For the full rules and eligibility requirements, as well as a list of resources available to applicants, visit kidneyx.org/akp.”
  • MedPage Today reports “Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening was cost-effective in obese individuals as well as in those of normal weight and might even have a leg up at younger ages for obese men, a modeling study found. Having a colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 45 or a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) at age 40 was cost-effective at a $100,000/quality-adjusted life-years (QALY) gained threshold across sexes and BMI ranges. As BMI increased, the cost-effectiveness of having colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 45 versus 50 became even more favorable, reported Uri Ladabaum, MD, MS, of Stanford University School of Medicine in Redwood City, California; and co-authors in a paper in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.”
  • Healio informs us that “Salt substitutes consistently improved blood pressure and lowered risk for mortality, cardiovascular mortality and CV events, according to a meta-analysis published in Heart. ‘These findings are unlikely to reflect the play of chance and support the adoption of salt substitutes in clinical practice and public health policy as a strategy to reduce dietary sodium intake, increase dietary potassium intake, lower blood pressure and prevent major cardiovascular events,’ the researchers wrote.” Consumer Reports advises discussing salt substitutes with your PCP before starting to use them

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