Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.
Remember the zebras? They're still on the loose following an escape from a D.C. suburb in Maryland, but Del. Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonIlhan Omar to Biden: 'Deliver on your promise to cancel student debt' Supreme Court declines to hear dispute over DC representation in Congress The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Tight security for Capitol rally; Biden agenda slows MORE (D-D.C.) says despite her support for freedom and opposition to fences, she has a "solid" alibi and was not involved.
President BidenJoe BidenHow 'Buy American', other pro-US policies can help advocates pass ambitious climate policies Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Photos of the Week: Manchin protestor, Paris Hilton and a mirror room MORE is forcefully defending his move on vaccine mandates in the face of Republican outcry. He's also received support from the business community.
For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan (firstname.lastname@example.org), Nathaniel Weixel (email@example.com) and Justine Coleman (firstname.lastname@example.org). Write to us with tips and feedback, and follow us on Twitter: @PeterSullivan4, @NateWeixel and @JustineColeman8.
Let’s get started.
Biden on GOP legal threats: 'Have at it'
President Biden on Friday dismissed arguments from Republicans that his administration’s new vaccine requirements amount to federal overreach and said some GOP governors are being “cavalier” with the health of their constituents.
Asked about opponents vowing to challenge the new vaccination measures, Biden replied: “Have at it.”
“I am so disappointed that particularly some Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities,” Biden said during an appearance at a Washington, D.C., school. “We’re playing for real here, and this isn’t a game, and I don’t know of any scientist out there in this field that doesn’t think it makes considerable sense to do the six things I’ve suggested.”
Who’s he talking about? The president did not name any Republican governors, though Texas Gov. Greg AbbottGreg AbbottLincoln Project files ethics complaint against Abbott Arizona attorney general asks for restraining order to block federal vaccine mandate Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Key CDC panel backs Moderna, J&J boosters MORE, South Dakota Gov. Kristi NoemKristi Lynn NoemSouth Dakota GOP lawmakers summon two employees for Noem inquiry Republicans' mantra should have been 'Stop the Spread' Biden presses companies to get ahead of vaccine mandate MORE, Arizona Gov. Doug DuceyDoug DuceyArizona launches M program to help families pay utility bills GOP governors traveling to border to unveil new security initiative Treasury says Arizona can't use federal COVID-19 aid for anti-mask education grants MORE and Georgia Gov. Brian KempBrian KempI voted for Trump in 2020 — he proved to be the ultimate RINO in 2021 Abrams targets Black churchgoers during campaign stops for McAuliffe in Virginia Arbery murder trial set to begin this week MORE are among those promising to sue over a new administration rule that says businesses with more than 100 employees must require employees be vaccinated. Biden on Thursday also announced a requirement that most federal workers be vaccinated.
CDC: Unvaccinated 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19
The CDC is hammering the message: COVID-19 vaccines work.
A new CDC study found unvaccinated individuals were 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than fully vaccinated people.
The research, spanning more than 600,000 people in 13 jurisdictions, also determined that unvaccinated populations were over 10 times more likely to be hospitalized — figures that underscore COVID-19 vaccines protect recipients from deaths and hospitalizations.
The study also showed that unvaccinated people were 4.5 times more likely to contract COVID-19 than the fully vaccinated.
Message: The study aligns with the Biden administration’s message that vaccines are the best way to combat the pandemic.
CDC Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Study finds Pfizer vaccine almost 91 percent effective for 5 to 11 year olds Fauci says it's recommended to get same vaccine for COVID-19 boosters Walensky: CDC will 'not articulate a preference' for which booster to get MORE on Friday made the case for vaccines yet again, stating that COVID-19 shots still work to protect recipients from the worst of the disease amid the rampant spread of the delta variant.
“The bottom line is this: We have the scientific tools we need to turn the corner on this pandemic,” Walensky said. “Vaccination works and will protect us from the severe complications of COVID-19.
Waning effectiveness for older population: However, two other studies also provided some evidence that the effectiveness of the vaccines are starting to wane among the older population, prompting the researchers to call for further investigation.
One study involving patients across nine states, the effectiveness for those aged 75 and older was 76 percent, while among those aged 18 to 74, effectiveness reached 89 percent.
But researchers urged caution, saying in the study that “this moderate decline should be interpreted with caution and might be related to changes in SARS-CoV-2, waning of vaccine-induced immunity with increased time since vaccination, or a combination of factors.”
Muddying future: If the CDC wanted a clear indicator that booster doses are needed, these studies did not do that.
CENTRIST HOUSE DEMS RELEASE RIVAL DRUG PRICING BILL
There’s now more than one House Democratic drug pricing bill in town.
A group of centrist House Democrats on Friday said they planned to introduce a scaled-back bill aimed at lowering prescription drug prices, an alternative to the more sweeping measure backed by House Democratic leaders.
The move, led by Reps. Scott PetersScott H. PetersWho is afraid of the EU's carbon border adjustment plan? Overnight Health Care — Presented by The National Council on Mental Wellbeing — Merck asks FDA to authorize five-day COVID-19 treatment Democrats weigh changes to drug pricing measure to win over moderates MORE (D-Calif.) and Kurt SchraderWalter (Kurt) Kurt SchraderHouse passes bills to secure telecommunications infrastructure Democrats weigh changes to drug pricing measure to win over moderates Internal battles heat up over Biden agenda MORE (D-Ore.), illustrates the concern among a handful of more moderate lawmakers about the far-reaching measure to lower drug prices, known as H.R. 3, that House Democratic leaders have included in their $3.5 trillion package now moving through committees.
A summary of Peters and Schrader’s bill states that it would “preserve innovation” from drug companies. The pharmaceutical industry has attacked H.R. 3 as threatening innovation.
The summary also states that it has policies with “bipartisan support,” in addition to lowering drug prices.
There’s also the Senate: While the new rival bill highlights the concerns of some moderates in the House with H.R. 3, that legislation was already widely expected to be altered before the final version of the bill, given the need to satisfy Senate Democratic moderates. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenClimate advocates turn sights on Wall Street Democrats scramble to reach deal on taxes Pelosi open to scrapping key components in spending package MORE (D-Ore.) is working on alternative legislation that is expected to be less far-reaching, though that measure is not finalized.
Business groups don't oppose Biden vaccine requirement
Powerful business groups whose members are directly affected by President Biden’s recently announced coronavirus vaccine requirement applauded Biden’s effort to boost vaccinations, but said that the administration needs to provide more details about its plan.
While business interests want to hear specifics about how businesses will enforce vaccination or regular testing, they did not lash out against Biden’s mandate as GOP politicians did Thursday.
National Association of Manufacturers President Jay Timmons on Thursday said he shared Biden’s goal of getting Americans vaccinated, but expressed concern about the cost of implementing the requirement.
“We look forward to working with the administration to ensure any vaccine requirements are structured in a way that does not negatively impact the operations of manufacturers that have been leading through the pandemic to keep Americans safe,” Timmons said in a statement. “It is important that undue compliance costs do not burden manufacturers, large and small alike.”
The Business Roundtable, which lobbies on behalf of some of the largest U.S. employers, backed Biden’s plan Thursday, stating that it “welcomes the Biden administration’s continued vigilance in the fight against COVID.”
FDA ‘EAGER’ BUT NO FIRM TIMELINE ON CHILD VACCINES
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Friday that it is working "around the clock" to authorize COVID-19 vaccines for children under 12, but that it cannot offer a specific timeline for when they will be available.
The lengthy statement from acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock and top vaccine official Peter Marks comes as the agency is facing pressure to move quickly on the issue, given that COVID-19 vaccines are currently unavailable for children under 12.
The FDA sought to address the pressure in Friday's statement, but also emphasized that it would "follow the science."
"Just like you, we are eager to see our children and grandchildren vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible," Woodcock and Marks said. "We have to let the science and data guide us."
"This process is complex and relies on robust manufacturer trials and data, and while we cannot offer a specific date or timeline for when it may be completed for the various manufacturers’ vaccine candidates, we can assure the public we are working as expeditiously as possible to meet this critical public health need and we very much hope to have pediatric COVID-19 vaccines available in the coming months," they added.
WHAT WE'RE READING
- Will vaccine mandates slow the pandemic? Yes, scientists say — but not immediately. (The New York Times)
- Texas ban spotlights Democrats’ generational divide on abortion and trans issues (Politico)
- Covid-19 virus variants mu and lambda unlikely to supplant delta (The Wall Street Journal)
STATE BY STATE
- They were skeptical, but now these Hoosiers are vaccinated: What changed their minds (Indianapolis Star)
- ‘Very challenging to navigate’: Utahns report frustrations in getting tested as COVID-19 cases rise (Salt Lake Tribune)
- Byron Calhoun says abortion is never necessary to save a mother’s life. He’s the only high-risk OB/GYN in central West Virginia. (The Lily)
OP-EDS IN THE HILL
- Merriam-Webster's partisanship is showing – again – with its latest definition
- As COVID-19 evolves, our behavior must evolve with it
- Social media misinformation about e-cigarettes is harmful for smokers
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s healthcare page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you Monday.