Health Care — Biden to get bivalent COVID booster


The McRib is returning next week, McDonalds announced, and this might be the last year we get to have the delicacy (?) as it embarks on its “farewell tour.” 

Today in health, we’ll discuss President Biden getting his bivalent COVID-19 booster shot this week, three months after he tested positive for coronavirus for the first time. 

Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi.

Biden to receive updated COVID vaccine on Tuesday

President Biden is set to receive an updated COVID-19 vaccination shot on Tuesday in an effort to encourage Americans to get their latest booster shots amid the ongoing pandemic.  

Recent COVID experience: Biden first tested positive for the virus in July and then, three days after being released from isolation, tested positive again in a rebound case after taking the antiviral drug Paxlovid. Biden’s physician said he experienced mild symptoms due to him being fully vaccinated and boosted against the virus.  

“The President will receive his updated COVID-19 vaccine and will deliver remarks on the ongoing fight against the virus,” the White House said in an email Sunday evening.

Health officials rolled out updated COVID-19 vaccine shots last month designed to target the latest omicron subvariants of the virus. COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have been dropping steadily since August, though uptake of the new boosters has been relatively slow. 

Biden, 79, is at a high risk for developing a severe case of COVID-19. The president has already received two booster doses beforehand, making this upcoming dose the fifth COVID-19 vaccine dose that he has received.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends that people wait around three months after a coronavirus infection to get the bivalent booster, putting Biden right at the sweet spot.  

Read more here. 

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Health Care Innovations – The Next Big Breakthrough, Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT

In these challenging times, how might innovation pave the way to a more equitable and sustainable health care system? What treatments and cures are on the horizon and how might new therapeutics improve quality of life? White House Cancer Moonshot Coordinator Danielle Carnival, AAMC President David Skorton, CMMI CMO Dora Hughes, Google Health’s Alissa Hsu Lynch and more join The Hill to highlight and demystify the latest health care breakthroughs. RSVP today.

What you need to know about surging RSV cases

A virus common among young children is surging in the U.S. and sparking concerns that hospitals could become overwhelmed this year by potential winter spikes in both the flu and COVID-19.  

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is extremely common, with nearly everyone having been exposed to the pathogen by the time they’re 2 years old. Younger children, especially those less than 6 months old, have the highest risk of developing severe cases that could lead to hospitalization. 

At St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., where he is based, Diego Hijano, an infectious disease specialist, said he is seeing an equal amount of COVID-19, flu and RSV cases.  

“That’s concerning, you know, because it will definitely overwhelm the emergency department and the health care system as these trends continue,” said Hijano. 

  • Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that more than 4,000 cases of RSV are being reported each week recently, similar to the last major surge, which was experienced in the summer of 2021.  

What can be done for RSV: There are currently no vaccines available for the virus, and the only treatment is monoclonal antibodies, usually reserved for extremely high-risk cases, including infants born prematurely or those with chronic diseases related to the heart and lungs. 

With no vaccines available for the virus and only one viable treatment, the infectious disease specialists who spoke with The Hill said the best way for parents to approach this season of respiratory viral spread is to limit and prevent potential exposure in general.

Read more here. 

Fears of US ‘twindemic’ of flu, RSV grow

Experts have been talking about a “twindemic” in connection with a simultaneous surge in COVID-19 and flu cases. Those seem to be realized — but it’s not COVID-19 driving the concern.

  • The worry was that winter waves of COVID-19 would coincide with the regular flu season and that the combination could pose a threat to health systems. 
  • But children’s hospitals are filled with cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which comes just as the number of people with the flu also rise across the country. 

The Centers for Disease and Prevention has said that cases of RSV are rising in multiple regions of the country, while the nation’s children’s hospitals have reported being overwhelmed with RSV. 

The rising number of cases has set off alarm bells for parents worried about hospital space. 

“The Seattle Children’s Emergency Department (ED) continues to see record volumes in pediatric patients in October,” Tony Woodward, medical director of emergency medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, said in a statement obtained by Changing America.  

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in some parts of the country, signaled by wastewater surveillance, suggesting that we could potentially be on the verge of a “tripledemic.” 

Read more here. 

2 IN 3 SUPPORT LEGALIZING MARIJUANA: SURVEY 

Two in 3 Americans support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, according to a new Monmouth University survey. 

About 68 percent of Americans support legalizing at least a small amount of the drug for personal use, including 76 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of independents and 52 percent of Republicans. 

The poll also found that President Biden’s decision this month to pardon all those convicted federally of simple marijuana possession was met with approval by 69 percent of Americans. 

  • Patrick Murray, the director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said, “Support for marijuana legalization has been increasing consistently over the past twenty years” across various polls.
  • “Biden’s action is in line with how the vast majority of Americans feel about this issue,” Murray said in a statement. 

Pot legalization for recreational use is on the ballot in five states this year: Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota. 

Read more here. 

HOSPITALS LAY OUT PRIORITIES FOR LAME-DUCK CONGRESS 

A U.S. trade group representing more than a thousand large hospitals issued a letter to congressional leadership on Monday listing its legislative priorities for Congress during its upcoming lame-duck session. 

The Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) specified several policies where it would like to see movement in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). 

  • FAH asked that Congress waive the requirements under the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act on Medicare.
  • The 2010 Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act requires that all new legislation which creates changes to taxes, fees or other mandatory expenditures not increase projected deficits. If these requirements are not met, then programs may face across-the-board cuts. 

FAH said in its letter that hospitals and providers currently face a 4-percentage point, across-the-board cut from Medicare payments due to these requirements.  

The trade organization also asked that Congress extend a Medicare payment program that provided support to rural hospitals, asking that it be continued for an “extended number of years.” 

Read more here. 

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Epic’s overhaul of a flawed algorithm shows why AI oversight is a life-or-death issue (Stat) 
  • From wildfires to hurricanes, midwives could play a key role in disaster response (The 19th News) 
  • Uganda says 9 more Ebola cases confirmed in Kampala, urges vigilance (Reuters) 

STATE BY STATE

  • Drivers in decline: A shortage of volunteers complicates access to care in rural America (Kaiser Health News)
  • Nearly half of Virginia high school out sick due to flu-like, gastrointestinal symptoms in mystery outbreak (NBC News)
  • Abortion is on the California ballot. But does that mean at any point in pregnancy? (NPR)

THE HILL OP-ED

Should we be concerned about Ebola? 

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest. See you tomorrow.

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