A WORRYING SPIKE OF THE RESPIRATORY VIRUS IN CHILDREN – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Tuesday that this summer there has been an increase in three respiratory viruses – rhinovirus, enterovirus and the more serious enterovirus D68, or EV-D68 – in children and adolescents, reports Krista
Rhinoviruses, which cause the common cold, tend to peak in the spring and fall, while the usual season for enteroviruses is late summer and early fall. EV-D68 also peaks around this time, the agency said.
“It’s normal to see an increase in cold and flu illness each year, but this is happening ahead of the normal winter schedule,” epidemiologists Caitlin Rivers and Katelyn Jetelina wrote in a blog post Tuesday.
While the percentage of positive EV-D68 test results in July and August mirrored peak levels in 2018, the CDC said, it has been higher than the same period in 2017 and from 2019 to 2021.
EV-D68 usually causes coughing, shortness of breath, and fever, but the virus can also cause severe respiratory illness and acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a rare but serious neurological disease that mainly affects young children.
So far, 15 cases of AFM have been confirmed this year and 45 cases are under investigation.
Is twindemic here? Earlier this month, the CDC sent out a health alert urging doctors to be on the lookout for EV-D68 in their pediatric patients after hospitals and doctors in several regions reported an increase in hospitalizations in patients children with severe respiratory diseases who also tested positive for any of the three viruses.
Epidemiologists warn that a bad winter cold and flu season could be around the corner, with many children’s natural immunity weakened as a result of recent Covid-19 mitigation measures such as wearing masks and avoiding crowds . Covid-19 is also very much in the mix.
WELCOME TO WEDNESDAY PULSE — It’s Megan Wilson, your friendly neighborhood health lobby reporter filling in for your regularly scheduled Pulse crew. Researchers recently looked at how calorie labeling affects food purchasing decisions people make at the grocery store. (Spoiler: Knowing how many calories are in things led to a decrease in purchases of bakery and deli items. Prepared entrees and sides, however, didn’t change much.) Send all your tips and products from calorie-rich oven a [email protected], [email protected] i [email protected].
WANT MORE PULSE? Listen to the latest episode of our Pulse Check podcast with Ben Leonard and Adam Cancryn on the fallout from President Joe Biden’s recent declaration that the pandemic is over. Plus, Alice Miranda Ollstein provides a reality check from Capitol Hill, where the likelihood of Congress approving any additional Covid-19 funding appears slim.
MOST KIDS DON’T GET THE COVID-19 BOOSTERS — Fewer than 15 percent of children ages 5 to 11 have received a booster of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the CDC, putting them behind other age groups, POLITICO’s Annette Choi reports.
Vaccination rates vary across the country, with Louisiana and Kentucky having the lowest booster rates among children ages 5 to 11. Meanwhile, Washington state has one of the highest rates: About a quarter of its youngest children are stunted.
SOUTH CAROLINA HOUSE REJECTS ABORTION COMPROMISE – The South Carolina House on Tuesday rejected compromise legislation that would have strengthened existing abortion law and banned the procedure, POLITICO’s Megan Messerly reports.
The House, which passed a stricter abortion ban bill in August, rejected 95-11 the watered-down Senate version that would have allowed abortions to continue on a limited basis.
The vote sets the stage for further discussions of the legislation in a conference committee between the state House and Senate. Ultimately, the abortion-restricting legislation could return — or not — as both are investigating their respective proposals.
Party differences have emerged in several states. Indiana lawmakers passed a bill in August with exceptions for rape and incest after the GOP failed to garner enough support for a bill without the exceptions.
GOP lawmakers in West Virginia approved a bill earlier this month that would ban abortion from conception, with exceptions for rape, incest and cases where the mother is at risk, having blocked the bill for weeks over the issue of prison terms for abortion providers.
Meanwhile, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a dozen bills Tuesday that seek to make the state an abortion sanctuary, POLITICO’s Victoria Colliver reports.
THE CORTEZ MASTO CAMPAIGN FOCUSES ON ABORTION — Democrats in tough re-election races are campaigning for abortion rights, capitalizing on public sentiment around GOP proposals on Capitol Hill and state-level efforts to ban the procedure.
The campaign of Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) released a television ad in which she vows to “always fight for women’s right to make our own health care decisions,” adding that Republicans in Congress can act to ban abortion at the national level.
Some polls show Cortez Mastro with a slim lead over his Republican opponent, Adam Laxalt, who backed lawsuits in Texas and Alabama seeking to ban late-term abortions while serving as Nevada attorney general. However, Laxalt has said that, if elected, he would not support a national ban.
BIDEN ANNOUNCES REDUCED MEDICARE PREMIUMS – Americans will pay less for Part B plan premiums next year, the first decrease in about a decade, President Joe Biden announced Tuesday. The announcement comes six weeks before midterm elections, which will be crucial for Democrats.
Seniors and people with disabilities will save a little more than $5 on their monthly premiums, with most paying about $165 a month. “That means more money in their pockets while they continue to get the care they need,” Biden said in a Rose Garden speech.
Decreases come from a decrease in the price of Aduhelm, a controversial and expensive Alzheimer’s drug made by Biogen that initially led to an increase in monthly Part B premiums last year.
FLY-IN FOR ALTERNATIVE OPIOID PAIN MEDICATIONS – Advocates from the Voices for Non-Opioid Choices coalition, a nonprofit organization focused on increasing access to alternative forms of pain relief, are meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill Wednesday and Thursday, Krista reports.
Advocates in 11 states and Washington, DC are urging policymakers to support legislation that promotes access to FDA-approved non-opioid therapies for Americans undergoing outpatient surgical procedures. More than 160 members of Congress already support the Nationwide Opioid Addiction Prevention Act.
“The reimbursement policy incentivizes the use of prescription opioids as a first-line treatment for postsurgical pain,” several groups, including Voices for Non-Opioid Choices, wrote in a letter to the Centers earlier this month of Medicare and Medicaid.
“Despite the historic loss of more than 81,000 Americans to opioid-related overdoses, the healthcare system continues to expose patients to potentially addictive approaches to pain management,” the groups wrote.
The nonprofit organization FAIR Health released a report Tuesday shows that the ratio of patients who overdosed on opioids and opioid-like drugs, including heroin and fentanyl, compared to the number of people who used medical services increased in 42 states from 2019 to 2021.
DRUG INDUSTRY URGES BIDEN TO OPPOSE PPI WAIVERS – The Organization for Biotechnology Innovation sent a letter to the White House on Monday, urging Biden to oppose a proposal before the World Trade Organization to extend an exemption from intellectual property protections to therapeutics and the diagnosis of Covid-19.
The WTO’s TRIPS Council will formally debate whether to extend the intellectual property waiver in two weeks, which could possibly be brought up for a vote as early as November.
I chatted with John Murphy, BIO’s policy director, and Nick Shipley, the group’s chief lobbyist, about their advocacy efforts.
Murphy told me the group sent the letter to “spur some communication” with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative because trade officials haven’t said much about where they stand. BIO advocates hope to have meetings “all the way down the chain at the USTR as well as the Commerce Department” and other agencies that oversee competitiveness issues.
Industry groups, including the US Chamber of Commerce, have rejected the proposal to waive intellectual property protections, saying it would contradict a recent executive order aimed at promoting innovation and competitiveness in US biotech.
“If the US were to come out and say, ‘We did the vaccine waiver, there’s no fact pattern on the ground that dictates the need for this expansion,’ that would probably shut things down at the WTO pretty quickly.” , Shipley said. . “But they have been silent.”
New Alzheimer’s treatment shows promising results in closely watched clinical trial, STAT reports.
Walmart plans to offer coverage for fertility treatments as a benefit of its employee plan, according to Axios.