From NPR

‘Kind of a Chess Game’: for States, Distributing COVID-19 Vaccine Poses Myriad Hurdles

December 10, 2020

The first COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. could get authorized for emergency use in a matter of days. But for state health officials, any excitement over any potential breakthrough is tempered by an overwhelming logistical test: distributing a vaccine to millions of Americans.

Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, said there’s “no shortage of challenges” for the people charged with planning the vaccination rollout for their state.

The first COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. could get authorized for emergency use in a matter of days. But for state health officials, any excitement over any potential breakthrough is tempered by an overwhelming logistical test: distributing a vaccine to millions of Americans.

Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, said there’s “no shortage of challenges” for the people charged with planning the vaccination rollout for their state.

“The big question that program managers have is: Exactly how much vaccine am I gonna get?” Hannan said in an interview Wednesday with NPR’s All Things Considered host Ari Shapiro….

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What Biden’s Election Means for U.S. Health Care and Public Health

November 9, 2020

As of Jan. 20, 2021 — Inauguration Day — the federal government is about to get much more involved in health care and the COVID-19 pandemic response. Exactly how much more involved, now that Joe Biden is president-elect, depends on whether Republicans keep control of the Senate. And that likely won’t be determined until early January, when Georgia’s two Senate run-off races are held.

Trump’s nearly four years as president have been marked by a scaled-back federal investment and involvement in health care in a range of ways — giving states more authority to run their own health insurance markets, for example, and leaving them to come up with their own strategies for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and more.

As of Jan. 20, 2021 — Inauguration Day — the federal government is about to get much more involved in health care and the COVID-19 pandemic response. Exactly how much more involved, now that Joe Biden is president-elect, depends on whether Republicans keep control of the Senate. And that likely won’t be determined until early January, when Georgia’s two Senate run-off races are held.

Trump’s nearly four years as president have been marked by a scaled-back federal investment and involvement in health care in a range of ways — giving states more authority to run their own health insurance markets, for example, and leaving them to come up with their own strategies for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and more.

Biden’s pledge during the campaign was to reverse that trend. He wants to double-down and invest in the changes the Affordable Care Act made to the country’s health care system, he says. He wants to pour trillions into a unified coronavirus strategy. And he wants to work with Congress to create a Medicare-like public insurance plan that anyone can buy into — what he’s called the “public option….”

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How Will the Limited Supply of Antibody Drugs for COVID-19 Be Allocated?

October 22, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration is evaluating two potential drugs that could help keep people healthy after they’ve been infected with the coronavirus.

So far, there’s no clear system to make sure they would be allocated fairly or how to pay for these expensive drugs over the long haul.

“Demand is going to far outstrip supply here,” says Rena Conti at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.

The Food and Drug Administration is evaluating two potential drugs that could help keep people healthy after they’ve been infected with the coronavirus.

So far, there’s no clear system to make sure they would be allocated fairly or how to pay for these expensive drugs over the long haul.

“Demand is going to far outstrip supply here,” says Rena Conti at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.

Even though manufacturers are gearing up to produce more than a million doses before the end of the year, some 50,000 Americans are getting infected every day, so the clamor for these drugs is likely to be considerable. (If the current pace of infection keeps up, there will be another 3.5 million infected Americans before the end of the year)….

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Trump Administration Plans Crackdown on Hospitals Failing to Report COVID-19 Data

September 24, 2020

The federal government is preparing to aggressively crack down on hospitals for not reporting complete COVID-19 data daily into a federal data system, according to internal documents obtained by NPR.

The draft guidance, expected to be sent to hospitals this week, also adds new reporting requirements, asking hospitals to provide daily information on influenza cases, along with COVID-19. It’s the latest twist in what hospitals describe as a maddening flurry of changing requirements, as they deal with the strain of caring for patients during a pandemic.

The federal government is preparing to aggressively crack down on hospitals for not reporting complete COVID-19 data daily into a federal data system, according to internal documents obtained by NPR.

The draft guidance, expected to be sent to hospitals this week, also adds new reporting requirements, asking hospitals to provide daily information on influenza cases, along with COVID-19. It’s the latest twist in what hospitals describe as a maddening flurry of changing requirements, as they deal with the strain of caring for patients during a pandemic.

The reporting system drew national attention in July when the Department of Health and Human Services told hospitals to stop reporting information — such as the number of COVID-19 patients and the availability of intensive care beds — to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and instead report it into a new system managed directly by HHS, the CDC’s parent agency. The switch raised concerns from politicians and public health experts about the sidelining of CDC, the nation’s public health agency, in the midst of a pandemic….

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Drug Combination Slows Progression of ALS and Could Mark ‘New Era’ in Treatment

September 3, 2020

A combination of two experimental drugs appears to slow the decline of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an illness often known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

A six-month study of 137 patients with a fast-progressing form of the disease found that those who got daily doses of a two-drug combination called AMX0035 scored several points higher on a standard measure of function, a team reports in the Sept. 3 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

A combination of two experimental drugs appears to slow the decline of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an illness often known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

A six-month study of 137 patients with a fast-progressing form of the disease found that those who got daily doses of a two-drug combination called AMX0035 scored several points higher on a standard measure of function, a team reports in the Sept. 3 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

The difference was modest but meaningful to patients, said Dr. Sabrina Paganoni. She’s the lead author and a researcher at the Sean Healey & AMG Center for ALS at Mass General and Harvard Medical School….

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