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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Update

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08/04/2020

Congress

  • A deal on the next COVID-19 relief bill has not been reached but both sides report progress is being made. Negotiations between Democrats and Republicans in Congress and the White House continued over the weekend. According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who is representing the White House in the negotiations along with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, negotiations will occur every day until a deal is reached.

 
White House and Federal Agencies

  • This evening, President Trump signed an Executive Order on improving rural health and expanding telehealth access.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is extending the application deadline for many of its Provider Relief Fund distributions.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is implementing new procedure codes to allow Medicare and other insurers to identify the use of the therapeutics remdesivir and convalescent plasma for treating hospital in-patients with COVID-19. These new codes, which go into effect August 1, will enable CMS to conduct real-time surveillance and obtain real-world evidence in how these drugs are working and provide critical information on their effectiveness and how they can protect patients.
  • CMS is set to begin recouping advanced and accelerated Medicare payments made to providers.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its FAQ for patients and consumers about COVID-19 Antibody (Serology) Testing. The FAQs cover the basics of antibody tests, understanding test results, practical information and additional resources.
  • The FDA also approved a new antibody test that can measure the specific level of antibodies that are present. Previous antibody tests simply measured if antibodies were present or not present.
  • The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) published as new toolkit that highlights how OIG handled previous emergencies to help healthcare providers respond do the pandemic.
    • OIG also updated its COVID-19 portal.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Reopening, Vaccines and Treatments

  • The White House is planning a campaign to promote COVID-19 vaccination in anticipation of a vaccine being approved before the end of the year.
  • Sanofi and GSK received $2.1 billion from the White House Operation Warp Speed initiative for 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine that is still under development.
  • A panel of experts in the UK believe it is still too early to assert the efficacy of remdesivier as a COVID-19 treatment. They believe more robust studies are needed for us to better understand its ability as a treatment.
  • Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Adm. Brett Giroir MD, believes enough studies have been conducted to show that hydroxychloroquine is not an effective treatment for COVID-19.
    • FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said that a decision to treat COVID-19 with hydroxychloroquine should be up to patients and providers.
  • FDA Commissioner Hahn said that the FDA will approve COVID-19 vaccines that are safe and at least 50 percent effective.