The FDA’s Vaccines Committee is set to consider a recommendation for an annual COVID-19 vaccination plan, similar to that planned for flu shots. We’ll dive into the details.
PLUS: President Biden issues a memorandum to further secure access to medication abortion.
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Panel to consider annual COVID vaccines
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) advisory panel on vaccines is set to consider an annual schedule for a coronavirus vaccine, similar to how flu vaccines are marketed when it meets this week.
- The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) will meet Thursday to discuss how to simplify and streamline the COVID-19 vaccination process, including the composition of the coronavirus vaccine and the recommended timing for these shots – Scheduling is included.
- The rapid evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, resulting in improved ability to evade immune defenses, has meant “periodically updating the composition of COVID-19 vaccines as needed” – as in updated bivalent boosters was done with — requires consideration, according to panel documents posted Monday.
Possible plans: The panel said it anticipates evaluating the composition of a COVID-19 vaccine annually in June and making a recommendation for the following year — though it acknowledged the difficulties of mounting a globally coordinated vaccine recommendation.
- “FDA expects to engage VRBPAC in early June each year regarding the assessment of SARS-CoV-2 strains at least annually and the selection of strains for the fall season,” the documents said.
- Acknowledging that COVID-19 and flu are not the same, the panel noted that the deployment of bivalent COVID-19 boosters, designed to target both the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants along with the parental strain of the virus Went. “Similar” to the annual flu vaccination.
Read more here.
Biden releases memo to protect access to abortion pills
President Biden issued a presidential memorandum on Sunday to ensure that doctors can prescribe and distribute it across the United States.
Vice President Harris announced the memorandum in remarks Sunday marking 50 years of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in Florida.
- The memorandum directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland Security to consider new guidance to support patients, providers, and pharmacies who want to legally access, prescribe, or provide mifepristone.
- The memorandum will also ensure that patients know their right to access reproductive health care, including medication abortion from the pharmacy.
Mifepristone, a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in medication abortions, has become an increasingly common method for terminating pregnancies, especially after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. In view of It accounts for more than half of all abortions in the country.
Earlier this month, the FDA said it would allow US retail pharmacies to dispense abortion pills directly to patients in states where abortion is legal.
Medication abortion has been available in the US since 2000, when the FDA approved the use of mifepristone, but many states with strict abortion restrictions also limit the availability of mifepristone, either through restrictions on who can prescribe the pill and Can distribute or ban directly.
Read more here.
WISCONSIN bans conversion therapy opponents
Wisconsin LGBTQ advocates and lawmakers are recounting after state GOP legislators voted a second time last week to prevent a ban on conversion therapy from taking effect.
- “I am very concerned about young people in Wisconsin who live in communities where it is once again allowed, being subjected to this truly cruel and unscientific form of therapy,” state Rep. Greta Neubauer (D), one of six openly LGBTQ members of Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature, told The Hill.
- “Conversion” or “reparative therapy” is a broad term that refers to a number of interventions designed to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It has been condemned by major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Psychological Association, as such practices are underpinned by the belief that LGBTQ identities are distortions that need to be corrected.
Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have laws or policies that ban conversion therapy for minors, according to the Movement Advancement Project, a think tank that tracks state legislation affecting the LGBTQ community. Five states, including Wisconsin, have partial restrictions through a 2021 executive order issued by Gov. Tony Evers (D).
Three states – Alabama, Georgia and Florida – are unable to enforce a ban on conversion therapy because of an injunction in the 11th Circuit that prevents them from doing so.
Read more here.
57% support a government that ensures universal health care
A majority of adults in a new poll said they believe it is the federal government’s job to ensure health care coverage for all Americans, but most also prefer the private health care system over a government-run alternative.
57 percent of respondents support the idea that it is the federal government’s job to ensure health care coverage, the highest mark in Gallup’s polling since 2018. An overwhelming majority of Democrats share that view in the new poll, with 59 percent of independents agreeing. Just 28 percent of Republicans support the idea.
- While the survey showed that a majority of people said the federal government should ensure health coverage, it also found that a majority of respondents supported a private health care system run by the government. It is run by a government-run system that has just 13 percent support from Republicans and 46 percent from independents.
- More than 7 in 10 Democrats — 72 percent — support the idea of a government-run health care system.
The survey results reflect the complicated situation most people in America have on the nation’s health care system. Balancing the government’s responsibilities in health care coverage while maintaining a private coverage system has been a juggling act for decades for lawmakers and successive presidential administrations.
Read more here.
Health experts are still learning about the Omicron subvariant
More than 80 percent of coronavirus cases in the Northeast are now due to XBB.1.5.
According to health officials, XBB.1.5 appears to be the most transmissible subvariant of Omicron that has been detected so far, although it is still unclear whether it causes more severe disease.
Physicians in the Northeast who spoke with Hill said they haven’t seen any noticeable difference in disease severity among their recent COVID-19 patients.
Bernard Kamins, medical director for infection prevention at Mount Sinai Health System in New York, said the proportion of patients with illness severe enough to require a stay in the intensive care unit is similar to the previous variant.
Ulysses Wu, chief epidemiologist at Hartford Healthcare in Connecticut, said XBB.1.5 does not appear to be more lethal and noted that any time more cases of COVID-19 are seen, that in turn will increase morbidity and mortality.
“The presentation is the same for the most part. Maybe they’re not presenting as sick, but we’re still seeing a lot of sick patients and we’re certainly still seeing patients dying,” Wu he said.
- Shira Doron, chief infection control officer at Tufts Medicine in Boston, said the new major strain in her area was “really not such a big deal.” According to Doron, his hospital has seen a “slight” increase in new admissions, although he added that most patients who test positive for the coronavirus are being admitted for another illness, not because of a COVID-19 infection .
- “I feel like we’re in a really good place. I want to make sure that we don’t lose access to testing, we don’t lose access to treatment.” 19.
Read more here.
we are reading
- Three years later, the pandemic — and our response — has been shocking. Here’s What Even the Experts Didn’t See (STAT)
- Justice Department Probing Troubled Infant Formula Plant (The New York Times)
- An ‘unprecedented pandemic of avian flu’ is wreaking havoc on the US poultry industry (Fortune)
state by state
- Kindergarten vaccination rates drop in all but 3 WA counties (Seattle Times)
- Transgender people in rural America struggle to find doctors willing or able to provide care (Kaiser Health News)
- Tennessee says it is cutting federal HIV funding. Will other states follow? (NBC News)
A weeping requiem and a road to a brighter future
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Visit The Hills Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. see you tomorrow.