Concerning Thanksgiving, Bloomberg Prognosis tackles a burning question.
Does turkey actually make you sleepy? It feels like everyone always says that because turkey contains tryptophan it makes you tired, but is that actually true? Madison, New York, New York
The answer to this question is somewhat counterintuitive: Tryptophan can indeed make you sleepy, but the desire for a post-Thanksgiving dinner nap probably isn’t caused by the bird.
The more likely culprit is the very large meal, says Kat Lederle, a sleep therapist in the UK. * * *
[T]he best way to avoid the post-dinner food coma is to pace yourself at the table. Just be sure to save room for dessert.
From the Federal Employee Benefits Open Season front —
- Federal News Network offers interviews with OPM’s Director Kiran Ahuja and OPM’s Assistant Associate Director for Healthcare and Insurance Ed DeHarde.
- Government Matters offers an interview with Kevin Moss, director of marketing at Checkbook Health.
From the Omicron and siblings front, the New York Times reports
As winter looms and Americans increasingly gather indoors without masks or social distancing, a medley of new coronavirus variants is seeding a rise in cases and hospitalizations in counties across the nation.
The Biden administration’s plan for preventing a national surge depends heavily on persuading Americans to get updated booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Now some scientists are raising doubts about this strategy.
Older adults, immunocompromised people and pregnant women should get the booster shots, because they offer extra protection against severe disease and death, said John Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York.
But the picture is less clear for healthy Americans who are middle-aged and younger. They are rarely at risk of severe illness or death from Covid, and at this point most have built immunity through multiple vaccine doses, infections or both.
The newer variants, called BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, are spreading quickly, and boosters seem to do little to prevent infections with these viruses, as they are excellent evaders of immunity.
The Centers for Disease Control reported on Friday
CDC Nowcast projections* for the week ending November 19, 2022, estimate the proportion of ten lineages designated as Omicron with estimates above 1%: BA.5—and five of its sublineages (BQ.1, BQ.1.1, BF.7, BA.5.2.6, and BF.11)—BA.4.6, BA.2, and BA.2.75.
The predominant Omicron lineage is BQ.1, projected to be 25.5% (95% PI 22.1-29.1%). Additionally, other variants represent 3.1% of circulating viruses, largely composed of the Omicron-derived XBB lineage.
The New York Times adds
Diminishing returns from tinkering with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines call for a new approach to protecting Americans altogether, Dr. Moore and other experts said. A universal vaccine that targets parts of the coronavirus that do not mutate would be ideal, for example. A nasal vaccine might be better at preventing infections than an injected one.
“Chasing variants by tweaking the mRNA vaccines is not a sustainable strategy,” Dr. Moore said. “There’s a need for better vaccine designs, but that needs a change of attitude at the government level.”
NPR Shots discusses the available treatment options for the predominant variants, which include Paxlovid.
Healthcare Dive informs us
A group of 22 states led by Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen filed a petition Thursday calling on the CMS to repeal its COVID-19 vaccination mandate for healthcare workers, according to a release.
The states argued the requirement has led to worsening staff shortages in the sector, particularly in rural areas.
The federal vaccine mandate covering healthcare workers has faced a flurry of legal challenges since it was first announced last year.
Unfortunately, the government continues to fight last year’s pre-Paxlovid battle in court.
From the U.S. healthcare business front, Fierce Healthcare tells us
Centene has agreed to sell Magellan Specialty Health to Evolent Health, the latest move in its broad value creation plan.
The government insurer said in an announcement that it expects to bank $750 million in the aggregate from the deal. Centene added Magellan Specialty Health, a leading specialty benefit management company, as part of its acquisition of Magellen Health, which closed in January.
Magellan Specialty Health provides utilization management tools to insurers, including for radiology, musculoskeletal, physical medicine and genetic testing. When the transaction closes, Centene and Evolent will enter a multiyear partnership that enables the insurer to extend and build on its work with Magellan Specialty.
“This transaction is another significant milestone in our ongoing portfolio review and value creation plan,” said Sarah London, CEO of Centene, in the release.