Overnight Health Care: US won’t join global coronavirus vaccine initiative | Federal panel lays out initial priorities for COVID-19 vaccine distribution | NIH panel: ‘Insufficient data’ to show treatment touted by Trump works

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Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Health Care.

The U.S. won’t be joining a global vaccine distribution initiative, and instead will go at it alone.  Meanwhile, a federal advisory panel released draft guidelines on prioritizing limited vaccine availability for when one is eventually developed. The NIH said using convalescent plasma needs clinical trials, and the administration will distribute rapid COVID-19 tests to governors later this month.

We’ll start with vaccines: 

US won’t join global coronavirus vaccine initiative 

The United States will not join a global effort led by the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop, manufacture and distribute a vaccine against the coronavirus, the White House said Tuesday.

What it means: The decision represents a gamble by the Trump administration — one that could threaten to leave the country behind if the first viable vaccine candidate is developed by another country.

Almost every nation in the world is participating in initial talks on the joint COVAX project involving the WHO, the European Union, Germany, Japan and several major non-governmental organizations.

The project, announced by the WHO earlier this year, would distribute an eventual vaccine candidate to countries around the world based on the number of high-risk residents in each nation.

But the White House said the United States will not be among those nations, saying it did not want to be “constrained by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China.”

Read more here.

On a related note: 

Federal panel lays out initial priorities for COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Initial doses of a COVID-19 vaccine should go to front-line health workers, first responders and people at serious risk for infection, according to new draft guidelines released Tuesday by a federal advisory panel.

The draft guidelines were developed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to help U.S. officials plan for an equitable allocation of an eventual vaccine.

The final report will be released later this fall.

The committee recommended a four-phased approach, at least when the initial supply of a vaccine is limited, “guided by evidence to achieve the primary goal of maximizing societal benefit by reducing morbidity and mortality caused by the transmission of novel coronavirus.”  

The panel’s recommendations will go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But it’s not clear who will make the final determinations on vaccine priorities — whether it’s Operation Warp Speed, the CDC, the National Institutes of Health or the White House. 

Read more here.

Trump officials to begin distributing new rapid test to states this month

The Trump administration will begin distributing a new rapid coronavirus test to governors in mid-September, allowing states to decide how to deploy them, testing chief Adm. Brett Giroir said Tuesday.

The administration is touting the new devices, which received emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week, as a major advance in the country’s testing capabilities, following months of delays and setbacks that have plagued the country’s response to the pandemic.

On Tuesday, Giroir said the “overwhelming majority” of tests would be provided to governors, allowing states to decide where and how to distribute them, rather than having the federal government decide.

The step forward: The new tests are cheap, rapid and do not require a machine to perform. 

Caveat: The tests still require a health professional to administer, meaning they are not yet at the level pushed by experts to allow cheap, rapid tests on a wider scale, including at home. 

Read more here.

NIH panel: ‘Insufficient data’ to show treatment touted by Trump works 

A panel of experts convened by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said Tuesday that there is no evidence yet that a treatment for coronavirus touted by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump compares police who use force to golfers who ‘choke’ Pence told to be on standby to assume powers during Trump’s abrupt Walter Reed visit: book Top Senate Democrat requests German ambassador nomination pulled over past inflammatory comments MORE works. 

The treatment in question, known as convalescent plasma, was issued an Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August, a move highlighted by Trump at a White House press conference.   

On Tuesday, however, the COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel at the NIH said in a statement that “there are insufficient data to recommend either for or against the use of convalescent plasma for the treatment of COVID-19.” 

“Convalescent plasma should not be considered standard of care for the treatment of patients with COVID-19,” the statement added. 

Contrast with Trump: The president touted the treatment as a “historic breakthrough” in fighting coronavirus at the White House last month. He added that the treatment has had “an incredible rate of success.”

Read more here.

In non-COVID news:

House Oversight Democrats to subpoena AbbVie in drug pricing probe

A sweeping drug price investigation launched by the late Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsDemocratic chair subpoenas postmaster general for documents on reforms Bad blood between Pelosi, Meadows complicates coronavirus talks Trump Jr. seeks to elect ‘new blood’ to Republican Party MORE (D-Md.) continues.

House Oversight and Reform Committee Democrats are planning to subpoena drug manufacturer AbbVie for documents related to two of its most popular products as part of the panel’s investigation into rising drug prices. 

“After more than 18 months, AbbVie has demonstrated its unwillingness to comply voluntarily with the Committee’s investigation,” committee Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyOvernight Defense: White House says Trump doesn’t want to use Insurrection Act | Military Times poll finds Biden leads Trump by 6 points among troops | House Dems threatens subpoenas over Afghanistan testimony Democratic chair subpoenas postmaster general for documents on reforms House Democrats threaten to subpoena Pentagon, State Dept. for Afghanistan testimony MORE (D-N.Y.) wrote in a memo announcing the subpoena.  

“Although most of the drug companies we are examining have cooperated with the committee’s investigation, AbbVie’s noncompliance stands out as particularly egregious, which is why I am issuing this subpoena,” Maloney said.

AbbVie sells Humira, the best-selling drug in the world with net revenue of more than $19.2 billion in 2019, to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. The committee is also seeking information on Imbruvica, which treats mantle cell lymphoma and generated net revenue of more than $4.6 billion last year.

Abbvie said it has been cooperating, and it was surprised by the decision.

Read more here.

What we’re reading

ObamaCare opposition becomes political liability for GOP incumbents (Kaiser Health News)

Apple and Google expand coronavirus warning software (Washington Post)

These scientists are giving themselves D.I.Y. coronavirus vaccines (New York Times)  

State by state

South Florida restaurants and casinos reopen as governor vows no more COVID-19 shutdowns (Associated Press

Number of hospitalized coronavirus patients falls below 1,000 in Alabama (AL.com)

White House coronavirus task force report shows Iowa has highest case rate, recommends stricter mitigation measures (KCRG)

Florida cuts ties with Quest Diagnostics lab for 75,000 withheld coronavirus tests (Tampa Bay Times)

Op-eds in The Hill 

Counting cases is not the way to measure the COVID-19 pandemic





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