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Today in health care, President Biden used his ongoing recovery from COVID-19 to extol the advancements in treatments that have come about since he took office.
Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan, Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.
Biden touts vaccines after negative tests
President Biden on Wednesday touted the importance of vaccinations and his administration’s progress in fighting the coronavirus pandemic as he emerged from isolation after testing negative for COVID-19.
In remarks from the Rose Garden, Biden acknowledged that the coronavirus is here to stay and that many Americans will likely contract the virus regardless of how many precautions they take. But he rattled off a list of safeguards that are now widely available that can make cases mild, like his was.
- “Here’s the bottom line: When my predecessor got COVID, he had to get helicoptered to Walter Reed Medical Center. He was severely ill. Thankfully, he fully recovered. When I got COVID, I worked from upstairs of the White House in the offices upstairs for the five-day period,” Biden said.
- “The difference is vaccinations, of course. But also, three new tools, free to all and widely available,” he added.
Biden pointed to vaccinations and booster shots to guard against the virus. He also highlighted more accessible rapid testing to identify cases, as well as the emergency approval and distribution of Paxlovid, an antiviral pill that is used to treat cases of COVID-19.
While his voice was hoarse at times and he intermittently coughed during those appearances, his doctor said his symptoms remained mild throughout his isolation, with periodic body aches and a runny nose.
“My symptoms were mild, my recovery was quick and I’m feeling great. The entire time I was in isolation, I was able to work,” Biden said Wednesday.
WHO: Lower number of partners to avoid monkeypox
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday advised that men who have sex with men adjust how they go about sexual encounters amid the monkeypox outbreak, recommending that they reduce their number of sexual partners and reconsider initiating sex with new partners.
During a briefing,Tedros stated more than 18,000 monkeypox cases have been reported globally, with the majority in Europe. Five deaths have been reported so far, and about 10 percent of cases have been admitted to hospitals for pain management.
He stressed that the outbreak can be stopped if countries take the virus seriously and take steps to reduce the risk of infection.
“For men who have sex with men, this includes, for the moment, reducing your number of sexual partners, reconsidering sex with new partners and exchanging contact details with any new partners to enable follow-up if needed,” said Tedros.
- Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease and can spread through any prolonged skin-to-skin contact as well as through contaminated linens and bedding.
Tedros warned that “stigma and discrimination can be as dangerous as any virus and can fuel the outbreak” and cautioned people to be aware of misinformation and disinformation about the virus.
“Although 98 percent of cases so far are among men who have sex with men, anyone exposed can get monkeypox, which is why WHO recommends that countries take action to reduce the risk of transmission to other vulnerable groups, including children, pregnant women and those who are immunosuppressed,” he said.
NYC URGES WHO TO RENAME MONKEYPOX
The head of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to rename monkeypox to prevent the “potentially devastating and stigmatizing effects” that the virus’s name could bring about.
Commissioner Ashwin Vasan wrote to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a letter on Tuesday expressing his concerns over how his city was again “at the epicenter of a contagious disease that is affecting the fabric of our communities.”
Messaging issues: “Further, we have a growing concern for the potentially devastating and stigmatizing effects that the messaging around the ‘monkeypox’ virus can have on these already vulnerable communities,” Vasan wrote, urging Tedros to follow through on changing the name of the disease.
- Vasan said he had a “serious concern” over exclusively using the term “monkeypox” to refer to the virus due to the “painful and racist history” associated with the name.
- “The language we use in public health matters, and it has tangible effects on the safety of communities most at risk for poor health outcomes,” Vasan wrote.
TEVA REACHES $4.25B SETTLEMENT IN OPIOID LAWSUIT
The pharmaceutical company Teva has reached a $4.25 billion nationwide settlement, potentially resolving thousands of lawsuits over its role in the U.S. opioid crisis.
The money will go primarily to state and local governments, pending agreement from all involved parties. The dollar amount also includes $1.2 billion worth of generic Narcan, a drug that can reverse an opioid overdose, over the next 10 years, Teva confirmed.
Teva will also provide $100 million over the next 13 years to Native American tribes. But the agreement isn’t a concession of Teva’s role in the opioid epidemic.
“While the agreement will include no admission of wrongdoing, it remains in our best interest to put these cases behind us and continue to focus on the patients we serve every day,” the statement said.
Native communities, to which the settlement allocates special funding, have been among those communities hit hardest by the epidemic. Though white Americans make up the majority of overdose deaths, the rates are higher among Black Americans and Native Americans.
Teva is still in settlement negotiations with New York state and local governments but reports there are no pending trials for the remainder of the year.
FDA approves more monkeypox vaccine doses
Federal regulators Wednesday said they have approved the use of additional monkeypox vaccines manufactured in Denmark, clearing the way for nearly
800,000 doses to be shipped to states.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it finished its inspection of Bavarian Nordic’s “fill and finish” plant in Denmark, a facility where the vaccine is formulated and filled into vials.
- The company makes Jynneos, the only FDA-approved vaccine to treat monkeypox.
- “The expedited inspection and approval by FDA of Bavarian Nordic’s fill-and-finish capabilities means that an additional 786,000 doses of vaccine are now available for use in the U.S.,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.
In anticipation of finishing the inspection of the plant, the FDA recently began shipping some doses to staging sites in states.
The move comes as health officials face waves of criticism from lawmakers and patient advocates for what they claim is a slow response to the monkeypox outbreak.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- FDA chief’s long-promised opioid review faces skepticism (AP)
- A brain injury cut short Briana Scurry’s soccer career. It didn’t end her story (NPR)
- Health insurance price data: it’s out there, but it’s not for the faint of heart (Kaiser Health News)
STATE BY STATE
- With Roe gone, Republicans quarrel over how far to push abortion bans (New York Times)
- In shift, some California state departments keep employees in offices during COVID-19 outbreaks (Sacramento Bee)
- Judge temporarily blocks Wyoming abortion ban (Associated Press)
THE HILL OPEDS
- CDC must act to prevent monkeypox explosion in prisons
- Monkeypox: Have we learned nothing from AIDS or COVID?
- Conflicting abortion laws are making women’s reproductive care a quagmire
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.