Overnight Healthcare

Health Care — Fauci warns of cases rising again

Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Chief Medical Advisor and Director of the NIAID, responds to questions from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Jan 11, 2022.
Greg Nash

Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here.

As Congress debates making daylight saving time permanent, see how the move would change sunrise and sunset times in your area. 

COVID-19 infections are rising quickly overseas, and U.S. officials are predicting the same is likely to happen here in the coming weeks.  

For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan (psullivan@thehill.com), Nathaniel Weixel (nweixel@thehill.com), and Joseph Choi (jchoi@thehill.com

Let’s get started. 

 

Fauci: Infection rates likely to increase

White House adviser Anthony Fauci is warning that COVID-19 infection rates are likely to rise in the next few weeks in the United States after their dramatic drop following the omicron variant’s rapid spread across the country.  

“I would not be surprised if in the next few weeks we see somewhat of either a flattening of our diminution or maybe even an increase,” Fauci said on the ABC News podcast “Start Here,” ABC News reported.  

“Whether or not that is going to lead to another surge, a mini surge or maybe even a moderate surge, is very unclear because there are a lot of other things that are going on right now,” he added.  

Cases have fallen across the nation over the last two months, with the average number of new cases totaling just over 30,000.  

Fauci’s prediction is based on the United Kingdom, where cases have started to increase slightly, although “their intensive care bed usage is not going up, which means they’re not seeing a blip up of severe disease,” Fauci added. 

The increase in cases comes as the BA.2 variant is seeing an uptick in the U.S., with Fauci predicting on the podcast the variant will overtake omicron in the future.  

Read more here.  

 

COVID-19 risks quietly rise 

Our colleague Niall Stanage also looked at the rising risks in his column, The Memo.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki delivered a stark reminder on COVID-19 at Thursday’s media briefing. 

The fact that the virus is no longer as disruptive of daily life as before “doesn’t mean it’s gone,” Psaki said. “It’s not gone.” 

The warning was important because the dangers from COVID-19 have once again been edging up — even as pandemic-weary Americans have stepped into something approximating normal life. 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also diverted attention from the pandemic, commandeering the political agenda and the vast bulk of media coverage. 

The danger is that the nation has taken its eye off the ball. 

“We are acting as if the pandemic is finished, and it is certainly not,” said Lawrence Gostin, a professor at Georgetown Law and a public health expert. “We are going to crash through the 1 million deaths mark soon. And we are, going forward, very likely to continue to see spikes and wanes.” 

Read more here

 

CDC STUDY: BOOSTERS EFFECTIVE AGAINST WORST OUTCOMES 

Three doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines were 94 percent effective in preventing death or the need for a ventilator during the omicron surge, according to a new study. 

The study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released Friday adds to the evidence showing the importance of getting a booster shot.   

Effectiveness against death or ventilation was significantly lower for people who only had two shots, at 79 percent, during the period that omicron was the dominant variant circulating.   

“These findings reinforce the highly protective effects of up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination against severe illness and death among adults, including against current SARS-CoV-2 variants,” the study states.   

The findings were based on results from 21 medical centers in 18 states.   

Read more here

 

BIDEN TOUTS NEW HEALTH AGENCY

President Biden on Friday touted the newly launched biomedical research agency, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), saying it will pursue bold ideas and drive breakthroughs in medicine. 

“ARPA-H will have a singular purpose: to drive breakthroughs in biomedicine to prevent, detect and treat diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes,” Biden said in remarks at the White House. 

ARPA-H officially launched this week, after a government spending bill Biden signed into law on Tuesday included $1 billion for the agency. 

ARPA-H is modeled after the Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that develops emerging technologies for military use.  

It will focus on equity, “because every American should have access to cutting edge health care and innovations and to make the impossible, possible,” Biden said.   

Biden met with researchers and patients to discuss the new agency and its goals to accelerate progress on curing cancer and other diseases, produce medical innovation and address disparities in health outcomes.  

Read more here.  

 

Washington governor signs bill blocking abortion lawsuits 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed a bill on Thursday that blocks people or the government from bringing a lawsuit against those seeking an abortion or assisting someone looking for an abortion, a response to Texas’s controversial six-week abortion ban, which allows such suits.  

“We know this bill is necessary because this is a perilous time for the ability of people to have the freedom of choice that they have enjoyed for decades,” Inslee said at a press conference on the “Affirm Washington Abortion Access” law, which officially takes effect in June. 

States have been preparing for what could happen if Roe v. Wade gets overturned by the 6-3 conservative majority Supreme Court this term. 

Read more here.

 

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Becerra points to Latino successes in his first year as HHS secretary (NBC News)
  • Shrugs over flu signal future attitudes about Covid (New York Times
  • UK Covid cases are back on the rise as government scraps travel restrictions (CNBC)  

STATE BY STATE

  • Ky. House passes bill tightening rules on food benefits, Medicaid (WFPL
  • New Tennessee bill would allow rapists’ families, friends to sue if victims have an abortion (NBC
  • Missouri tried to fix its doctor shortage. Now the fix may need fixing (Kaiser Health News

 

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

Tags Anthony Fauci Jay Inslee Jen Psaki Joe Biden
See all Hill.TV See all Video