Overnight Health Care — Presented by Alexion — Officials release next steps in COVID-19 battle

President Biden is seen before giving remarks about lowering healthcare and prescription drug cost at Germanna Community College in Culpepper, Va., on Thursday, February 10, 2022.

Welcome to Wednesday’s Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

If you haven’t yet seen the viral clip of a Wheel of Fortune segment encountering some….difficulties…check it out here.

The U.S. is entering a new phase of the COVID-19 fight, and the White House is looking to prepare for the new realities.

For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan ([email protected]), Nathaniel Weixel ([email protected]), and Joseph Choi ([email protected]). Write to us with tips and feedback, and follow us on Twitter: @PeterSullivan4 @NateWeixel and @JosefChoi.

Let’s get started.

WH unveils next phase of COVID-19 fight

The White House on Wednesday unveiled a plan for fighting COVID-19 in its new phase, with the virus moving from a crisis to a lower-level risk that does not dominate daily life.

The plan comes as the omicron wave has declined and many are eager to turn the page on the pandemic. President Biden in his State of the Union on Tuesday night said COVID-19 “no longer need control our lives” in this “new moment.”

What’s included: The 96-page plan will require new funding from Congress, the White House said, though there are not specific dollar amounts for each item. Ahead of a March 11 deadline for funding the government, the White House recently informally outlined the need for $30 billion focused on domestic needs and $5 billion for global vaccinations.

“To fully execute on this plan requires Congress doing its part to invest in tools that work,” the document states. “This plan lays out the roadmap to help us fight COVID-19 in the future as we move America from crisis to a time when COVID-19 does not disrupt our daily lives and is something we prevent, protect against, and treat.”

The risk of a new variant that upends progress remains a threat, and the plan calls for increased surveillance and data collection aimed at monitoring for new variants.

Read more here.

COVID-19 cases, deaths continue global slide

COVID-19 cases and deaths are continuing to decline worldwide, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), The Associated Press reports.

Global cases of the virus went down 16 percent in the past week and deaths fell by 10 percent, according to the WHO’s data. The drop in COVID-19 deaths first began to be seen worldwide last week, and the WHO data shows that decline is continuing.

However: The WHO still reported there were approximately 10 million new cases of COVID-19 reported globally in the past week, as well as 60,000 deaths, the AP reports.

In the Western Pacific region, coronavirus cases and deaths increased, making it the only region in the world to see an upward trend in COVID-19, along with a 22 percent increase in deaths caused by the virus, the news outlet noted.

In addition to the global COVID-19 decline, the delta variant has almost entirely been taken over by the omicron variant, according to the WHO. Based on the sequenced viruses worldwide, 99.5 percent of COVID-19 cases have been the omicron variant, while only 0.3 percent of cases have been the delta variant, according to the AP.

Read more here.

FDA WARNS OF POSSIBLE FALSE RESULTS FROM UNAUTHORIZED COVID-19 TESTS

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday named three unauthorized rapid COVID-19 tests that it says people should not use due to the risk of false results.

The FDA instructed people to not use the Celltrion DiaTrust COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test, the SD Biosensor Inc. STANDARD Q COVID-19 Ag Home Test and the Flowflex SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Test (Self-Testing).

“The FDA is concerned about the risk of false results when using this unauthorized test,” said the agency.

All three tests work through the use of a nasal swab. The agency has recommended that healthcare providers and testing program organizers retest patients who have used any of these unauthorized tests less than two weeks ago.

All three companies have issued recalls for these tests. At least 162,000 unauthorized tests from Celltrion were distributed in the U.S. Two other COVID-19 tests from Celltrion have been authorized by the FDA: the DiaTrust COVID-19 Ag Home Test and the DiaTrust COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test.

Read more here.

A MESSAGE FROM ALEXION

GOP strikes vaccine rule for health workers

Senate Republicans on Wednesday voted to strike down President Biden‘s vaccine mandate targeting health care workers, in a rebuke of the administration.

Senators voted 49-44 approving the GOP effort to nix the rule – a vote they were able to force under the Congressional Review Act.

Though no Democratic senators voted with Republicans to nix the rule, GOP senators were able to get it through the Senate because of Democratic absences. Six Democratic senators missed the vote.

The mandate was rolled out by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which sought to require the COVID-19 vaccine for health care workers at providers that participate in Medicare and Medicaid.

Read more here.

WHO WARNS OF ESCALATING HEALTH CRISIS IN UKRAINE

The World Health Organization (WHO) said an initial shipment of medical aid for Ukraine will arrive in Poland on Thursday as the agency cautioned of an intensified health crisis in the country amid the Russia’s invasion.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the announcement in a media briefing on Wednesday, saying the delivery would include several tons of trauma care and emergency surgery supplies to meet the needs of around 150,000 people.

Tedros noted that the WHO supplied hospitals in Ukraine with resources prior to the conflict, but said its resources in Kiv have been rendered inaccessible.

“There is an urgent need to establish a corridor to ensure humanitarian workers and supplies have safe and continuous access to reach people in need,” Tedros said, though it was not clear how exactly supplies would be distributed to Ukrainians.

Tedro also said the WHO was “deeply concerned” about attacks on health facilities and health workers.

“The sanctity and neutrality of healthcare including of health workers, patients, supplies, transport and facilities and the right to safe access to care must be respected and protected,” Tedros added.

Read more here.

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WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Black Americans are now dying from drug overdoses at a higher rate than whites (NPR)

  • In Cuba, most children 2 and up are vaccinated against Covid-19 (NBC)

  • 1st possible case of deer-to-human COVID-19 transmission reported (Live Science)

A MESSAGE FROM ALEXION

STATE BY STATE

  • DeSantis scolds students for wearing face masks during USF visit (WFLA)

  • Texas investigates parents of transgender teen, prompting the ACLU to sue (The Texas Tribune)

  • New Mexico continues “meteoric drop” in COVID cases, hospitalizations (KRQE)

THE HILL OP-EDS

Avoid clinical trial ‘valley of death’ with medical countermeasure program

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s health care page for the latest news and coverage. See you Thursday.

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