Welcome to Thursday’s Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup

Officer Douglas, a 3-year-old dog, is at the Capitol this week to support Capitol Police, lawmakers and staffers on the anniversary of Jan. 6. 

For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan ([email protected]), Nathaniel Weixel ([email protected]) and Justine Coleman ([email protected]). Write to us with tips and feedback, and follow us on Twitter: @PeterSullivan4@NateWeixel and @JustineColeman8

Let’s get started. 

 

Former Biden transition advisers call for change in COVID-19 strategy

Key point: The authors made clear that COVID-19 is not endemic yet and that the U.S. is far from that point. But they said the administration needs to clearly communicate the current goals and strategies instead of shifting from one crisis to another. For instance, they said it was shortsighted for Biden to declare last summer that the U.S. has “gained the upper hand against this virus.” 

“By September 2021, the Delta variant proved these steps to be premature, and by late November, the Omicron variant created concern about a perpetual state of emergency,” they wrote. “In delineating a national strategy, humility is essential.” 

Read more here.

 

A MESSAGE FROM ASTRAZENECA AND FRIENDS OF CANCER RESEARCH

The Battle Against Cancer: Setting the Next Agenda

To mark 50 years since the passage of the National Cancer Act of 1971, a select group of thought leaders working at the intersection of public health and oncology participated in a roundtable discussion, hosted by The Hill in partnership with Friends of Cancer Research and AstraZeneca’s YOUR Cancer Program, on expanding access to oncology precision medicine. Learn more.

 

World record set for confirmed COVID-19 cases, WHO says 

The number of confirmed cases between Dec. 27 and Jan. 2 was 71 percent higher than the previous seven-day period, which tallied around 5 million new cases. 

Cases for months ranged between 3 million to 5 million per week, but the highly transmissible omicron variant, first detected in November, has led to a spike in global cases. 

While the number of cases has increased, deaths fell in the latest reporting week compared to the prior seven-day period. 

More than 41,000 deaths from COVID-19 were reported last week, down from more than 44,000 in the previous week, the WHO found. 

While preliminary studies have found omicron to be less severe than the delta variant, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has cautioned nations to not take omicron lightly. 

Read more here.  

 

VAXXED STUDY PARTICIPANTS WITH SEVERE COVID-19 HAD AT LEAST ONE RISK FACTOR

Every vaccinated person who endured serious COVID-19 outcomes as part of a new study of more than 1 million people had at least one risk factor that left them vulnerable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The CDC research published Thursday provided further evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines protect recipients, making severe outcomes “rare.” Just 189 people experienced these outcomes out of more than 1.2 million who got their primary vaccination series between December 2020 and October 2021. 

All patients who endured serious outcomes had one or more risk factors that made them more likely to develop serious illness from the virus.  

The risk factors included being aged 65 and older, being immunocompromised, or having underlying conditions involving pulmonary disease, liver disease, chronic kidney disease, neurologic disease, diabetes or cardiac disease. 

The study defined serious COVID-19 outcomes as hospitalization with diagnosis of acute respiratory failure, need for noninvasive ventilation or ICU admission and death. 

Significance: The research suggests people vaccinated with the primary series who are older, immunocompromised or have certain underlying conditions are more likely to develop breakthrough cases, supporting increased precautions and boosters among more vulnerable populations. 

Caveat: Data collection for the study ended in October, before the highly transmissible omicron variant was detected in the U.S. 

Read more here 

US sees record COVID-19 pediatric hospital admissions on Wednesday

The U.S. documented a record number of pediatric hospital admissions with confirmed COVID-19 on Wednesday, with federal data showing almost 1,000 children with confirmed infection were admitted. 

Department of Health and Human Services data updated Thursday shows that 951 children were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday — the highest number of the pandemic. 

These daily new pediatric admissions skyrocketed in the last weeks of December into January, almost tripling in the last two weeks as the omicron variant spreads rapidly throughout the country. 

The numbers surpassed previous records set during the delta wave this summer, when daily children’s hospitalizations reached a peak of nearly 400 in one day. 

What Fauci said: The government’s top infectious diseases expert, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciUS sees record COVID-19 pediatric hospital admissions on Wednesday New Washington secretary of state orders staffers to be vaccinated White House: No plans to change definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ MORE, noted during a press briefing Wednesday that even though the omicron variant “appears to be less severe” than the delta strain, the “caveat” is that omicron’s high transmissibility leads to more cases and the “inevitability” of more hospitalizations. 

“The sheer volume of infections because of its profound transmissibility mean that many more children will get infected,” he said. “And as many more children will get infected, a certain proportion of them — usually children that have underlying comorbidities — are going to wind up in the hospital. That is just an inevitability.” 

Read more here.  

 

CRUZ LOOKS TO OVERTURN DC STUDENT VACCINE MANDATE

D.C. congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonCruz looks to overturn DC student vaccine mandate Zebras recovered after months on the loose in Maryland FAA levies 5K in fines against unruly passengers this year MORE (D) said she plans to fight Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz looks to overturn DC student vaccine mandate Jan. 6 and the GOP’s masterclass in the emptiness of words ‘Daily Show’ installs ‘Heroes of the Freedomsurrection’ Jan. 6 monument MORE’s (R-Texas) efforts to overturn the city’s vaccine mandate for schoolchildren.  

Norton blasted Cruz and called him a “frequent violator of D.C. home rule, despite professing to support local control of local affairs” and said he “thinks he knows best how to keep D.C. students and schools safe.”  

“The duly elected D.C. Council represents the nearly 700,000 D.C. residents, not Senator Cruz. I will defeat his latest attempt to abuse Congress’ authority over D.C., just as I have defeated all of his prior attempts,” Norton said. 

Cruz and many other Republican lawmakers have been outspoken critics of vaccine mandates.  

Cruz said Tuesday on the “Ben Shapiro Show” that “the school board has no right to force you to get your 5-year old vaccinated” and that he is introducing a bill in the Senate to overturn the vaccine mandate for school kids. 

Cruz said the bill would nullify the vaccine mandate passed by the D.C. City Council last month. It requires students eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine that is fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to get inoculated by March 1, though enforcement would not begin until the start of the 2022-23 school year. 
 
Read more here

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Cost of Covid-19 testing exceeds $100 for some families as omicron surges (The Wall Street Journal
  • Omicron surge vexes parents of children too young for shots (The Associated Press
  • Scientists try to pinpoint why rapid Covid tests are missing some cases (Stat

 

A MESSAGE FROM ASTRAZENECA AND FRIENDS OF CANCER RESEARCH

The Battle Against Cancer: Setting the Next Agenda

To mark 50 years since the passage of the National Cancer Act of 1971, a select group of thought leaders working at the intersection of public health and oncology participated in a roundtable discussion, hosted by The Hill in partnership with Friends of Cancer Research and AstraZeneca’s YOUR Cancer Program, on expanding access to oncology precision medicine. Learn more.

 

STATE BY STATE

  • As omicron infects workers, subway service suffers (The New York Times
  • Massachusetts sent millions of KN95 masks to schools. Not all of them work as well as advertised (Boston.com
  • NY COVID Hospitalizations Top 11K as State Reports Highest Single-Day Deaths Since Mass Vaccine Rollout (NBC New York)  

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



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