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Overnight Health Care: Biden: US to hit 200M vaccine target on Wednesday | House Dems to unveil drug pricing measure ahead of Biden package | FDA finds multiple failures at J&J plant

Overnight Health Care: Biden: US to hit 200M vaccine target on Wednesday | House Dems to unveil drug pricing measure ahead of Biden package | FDA finds multiple failures at J&J plant
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Overnight Health Care. Want to go to the Burning Man festival this year? You might need a vaccination! 

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Today: President BidenJoe Biden28 Senate Democrats sign statement urging Israel-Hamas ceasefire Franklin Graham says Trump comeback would 'be a very tough thing to do' Schools face new pressures to reopen for in-person learning MORE said the U.S. hit his target of administering 200 million doses. Biden wants businesses to give paid leave for vaccinations, FDA cited multiple inspection failures at the Emergent plant producing J&J vaccines in Baltimore, and watch for a House Democratic drug pricing bill tomorrow.

We'll start with Biden:

Achievement unlocked: 200 million vaccines in less than 100 days

The United States has entered a new phase of its coronavirus vaccination effort, President Biden said Wednesday, as the nation will have administered 200 million coronavirus shots by the end of the day.

"Today, we did it. Today we hit 200 million shots on the 92nd day in office," Biden said in remarks from the White House. "It's an incredible achievement for the nation.” 

Attaining the landmark number of vaccinations comes as the administration reports more than 133 million Americans, or more than half of the adult population, have received at least one shot. 

Biden noted that the first three months of the country's vaccination effort was targeted to seniors and health workers, but that has now changed. By Thursday, Biden said 80 percent of people over the age of 65 will have received at least one shot.

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Everyone over the age of 16 is now eligible to get a shot, the president said, noting that 90 percent of Americans live within five miles of someplace they can get vaccinated.

What's next: The pace of vaccinations has slowed in recent days, and the U.S. is increasingly close to a point at which there will be more supply than demand. Overcoming hesitation and increasing the flexibility of the vaccination process to make it easier for everyone to get a shot who needs one will be key next steps.

Biden said he understands young people may not think they need to be vaccinated, but he reminded the public that hundreds of people are still dying from COVID-19 every day and nobody is invincible. 

Read more here.

 

Biden calls for every employee to get paid leave for vaccinations

President Biden called Wednesday for employers to give workers paid leave to get the COVID-19 vaccination.

Biden unveiled a program to address the issue of American workers feeling that they can't afford to take the time off to get vaccinated or lose a day of work because they aren't feeling well after the shot.

"I'm calling on every employer, large and small, in every state to give employees the time off they need with pay to get vaccinated," he said. "And anytime they need with pay to recover if they're feeling under the weather after the shot."

"No working American should lose a single dollar from their paycheck because they choose to fulfill their patriotic duty of getting vaccinated," the president added.

Instructions coming: The IRS will soon post instructions on how employers with fewer than 500 employees can be reimbursed for the cost of providing paid leave for vaccinations. The credit amounts to up to $500 per day per employee.

A similar tax credit was first offered when the 2020 Families First Coronavirus Response Act required paid leave. The American Rescue Plan, signed by Biden earlier this year, extended the time that employers can redeem the tax credit until Sept. 30.

Read more here.

 

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More presidential vaccine news: Biden says he expects to share vaccine doses with Canada

Biden told reporters on Wednesday that he expects the U.S. will share extra COVID-19 vaccine doses with Canada and countries in Central America. 

The president said he recently spoke to Canadian Prime Minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauBiden to record video message for 'Vax Live' concert Pranksters trick Canadian lawmakers with fake Navalny aide: report Trudeau voices 'tremendous confidence' in AstraZeneca vaccine after first Canadian death linked to shot MORE, and that he expects to be able to send doses to Canada and countries in Central America that have fallen behind in the pace of vaccinations. 

“We’re in the process of doing that,” Biden said following an update on the COVID-19 vaccination effort. “We’ve done a little bit of that already. We are looking at what is going to be done with some of the vaccines that we are not using. We’ve got to make sure they are safe to be sent, and we hope to be able to be of some help and value to countries around the world.”

Not there yet: But Biden has maintained that he won't send vaccines abroad until everyone in the U.S. who wants a vaccine has gotten one.

“We don’t have enough to be confident to send it abroad now, but I expect we are going to be able to do that,” he said without offering a time frame for the move. 

Read more here

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Uh oh: FDA finds multiple failures at Johnson & Johnson vaccine plant in Baltimore

The FDA on Wednesday issued a report on multiple failures at a troubled Baltimore vaccine manufacturing plant making Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses.

The report found the plant from Emergent BioSolutions, which previously was revealed to have ruined up to 15 million doses of vaccine, was "not maintained in a clean and sanitary condition" and some "procedures to prevent cross-contamination are not followed."

The FDA has ordered a pause on manufacturing at the plant while the problems are addressed.

"For the vaccines already manufactured, the products will undergo additional testing and will be thoroughly evaluated to ensure their quality before any potential distribution," two top FDA officials, Peter Marks and Janet Woodcock, said in a statement. "We will not allow the release of any product until we feel confident that it meets our expectations for quality."

Previous J&J doses: The problems found at the factory do not affect doses of the J&J vaccine that were distributed before the pause over blood clots, as those doses were made in a different plant in the Netherlands.

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Could spell trouble for J&J: The plant's shortcomings could be a major hindrance for J&J to meet its goal of 100 million doses delivered to the U.S. by the end of May.

Federal officials had been counting on the Emergent plant to play a major role in ramping up manufacturing, but it could take months to fix all the problems cited by FDA. In the meantime, J&J in a statement said it is "establishing a global vaccine supply network" in order to meet its commitments. Ten manufacturing sites will be involved in the production of the vaccine across different facilities, sometimes in different countries and continents, before the vaccine can be distributed globally. 

Read more here

 

Stay tuned: House Dems to unveil drug pricing measure ahead of Biden package

House Democrats are preparing to reintroduce major legislation to lower drug prices ahead of President Biden's unveiling of his American Families Plan.

House Democrats will introduce sections of their signature drug pricing measure, known as H.R. 3, which allows the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower prices, "as early as tomorrow," according to a senior Democratic aide. 

The drug pricing provisions could also be included in the American Families Plan that Biden is expected to unveil next week, a large package also including child care, paid leave and other priorities. 

However, advocates and lawmakers were on guard on Wednesday over rumors that the drug pricing legislation might not make it into Biden's package.  

"Lowering health costs and prescription drug prices for America’s families is a top priority of House Democrats with overwhelming bipartisan support among the American people, and we expect it to be part of the American Families Plan,” Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi28 Senate Democrats sign statement urging Israel-Hamas ceasefire Lawmakers bicker over how to go after tax cheats House Republican: 'Absolutely bogus' for GOP to downplay Jan. 6 MORE's (D-Calif.) spokesman Henry Connelly said. 

What the bill won’t mention: The House drug pricing bill will be silent, though, on how to spend the billions of dollars in savings.

Read more here

 

Vaccines offered protection from COVID-19 outbreak at Kentucky nursing home

Add this to the increasing evidence that coronavirus vaccines work:

A COVID-19 outbreak at a Kentucky nursing home was caused by a single unvaccinated employee, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, but the residents and employees who were vaccinated were much better protected.

The virus was introduced from a single employee who was unvaccinated and symptomatic.

The outbreak was linked to dozens of infections in both employees and residents, including in 22 residents and workers who had already been vaccinated. 

In total, 46 COVID-19 cases were identified; 26 residents, where 18 were fully vaccinated, and 20 health care personnel, where four were vaccinated.

The good news: The outbreak involved the R.1 variant, which could make vaccines less effective. It occurred in a nursing home, a congregate setting full of the people most vulnerable to COVID infection. And the vaccines worked. Attack rates were three to four times as high among unvaccinated residents and employees as among those who were vaccinated, and the vaccinated staff and residents were significantly less likely to experience symptoms or require hospitalization. 

Staff need to be vaccinated: According to CDC, 90 percent of the 83 residents were vaccinated, but only half of the 116 staff were at the time of the outbreak in March. Low acceptance of vaccination among nursing home workers has been a challenge nationwide, and could increase the likelihood of COVID-19 introduction and transmission within a facility.

Read more here.

 

What we’re reading

States have a new Covid problem: Too much vaccine (Politico)

‘No one was listening’: Long Covid patients struggle to get care for their symptoms (Stat)

Strides against HIV/AIDS falter, especially in the South, as nation battles COVID (Kaiser Health News)

 

State by state

Florida House Approves Legal Protections To Keep Colleges From Being Sued Over Coronavirus (CBS Miami)

Massachusetts focusing on rebuilding tourism as COVID-19 cases trend downward (ABC 6)