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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Update

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12/18/2020

HBMA COVID-19 Federal Response Update

Congress

  • Congress is continuing to negotiate legislation that will fund the federal government through the remainder of the fiscal year and COVID-19 relief legislation. Both bills are bipartisan and will likely be packaged together. Congress is not expected to finish work on these bills in time to vote on them before government funding expires on Friday. This means the government could briefly shutdown over the weekend while Congress completes work on these bills.

White House and Federal Agencies

  • HHS began distributing its $24 billion “Phase 3” allocation from its Provider Relief Fund. This funding will reach 70,000 healthcare providers. Providers who already received Provider Relief Fund payments had the opportunity to apply for additional funding to compensate them for financial losses and changes in operating expenses caused by the coronavirus. 
  • NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci is urging people to continue practicing public health measures such as mask wearing and social distancing while vaccine distribution efforts continue.
  • NIH began an observational study of coronavirus infection and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Updates

Economy, Vaccine, Testing and Treatment

  • The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee recommended that the FDA issues an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate for people 18 and older. This is among the final steps before the FDA issues a decision on granting an EUA for the vaccine. The FDA is expected to grant an EUA to Moderna as early as Friday.
    • The FDA made this report on the vaccine available ahead of the advisory panel meeting.
    • Moderna will distribute 6 million vaccines immediately upon FDA approval.
    • Moderna began trials for its vaccine in adolescents.
  • The Federal Government agreed to purchase an extra 100 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. This adds to 100 million doses from the government’s initial order.
  • Secretary of HHS Alex Azar said 2.9 million doses of Pfizers vaccine will ship this week.
  • According to the FDA, Pfizer’s vaccine vials contain extra amounts of the vaccine which can still be used and do not need to be discarded.
  • HHS is publishing weekly reports of vaccine allocations provided to states and jurisdictions. These allocations, and more related information, are located on the HHS COVID-19 Vaccines page.
  • HHS and DoD held a briefing with Secretary Alex Azar, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, and General Gus Perna on Operation Warp Speed and COVID-19 vaccine distribution. The same officials held a briefing on Saturday, December 12, to discuss the FDA’s authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Pfizer’s vaccine distribution effort is not without some challenges. Some vaccines were stored in excessively cold environments.
  • Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca could submit their respective vaccine candidates for FDA approval as early as February of next year.
  • AstraZeneca announced the results of an interim analysis were peer reviewed and published this week in The Lancet. Interim results from the Phase III program conducted by Oxford University demonstrated the vaccine is safe and effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and protects against severe disease and hospitalization.
  • Walgreens and CVS will begin vaccinating nursing home residents the week of December 21st.
  • Operation Warp Speed’s Dr. Moncef Slaoui is optimistic that 100 million people will be immunized by the end of March.
  • The FDA approved an over-the-counter, at home COVID-19 test.