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Today in health care, we’re looking at House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) asking for answers on when COVID-19 vaccine will be approved for young children as millions remain ineligible for immunization.
Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan, Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Subscribe here.
Clyburn wants update on COVID vax for young kids
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) on Monday requested a briefing from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the status of COVID-19 vaccines for young children.
He cited the high hospitalization rates that were seen in children under the age of 5 during the omicron wave and the large number of children who are still unable to get immunized.
In his letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, Clyburn pointed to reports that the agency was considering delaying its decision on authorizing Moderna’s vaccine for young children until the summer.
Chief White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci recently said the FDA may wait to review Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines at the same time, possibly in June, when the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee is reportedly scheduled to meet again.
Clyburn wrote that this timeline would delay the potential authorization of a shot for younger children by weeks.
Read more here.
FDA grants full approval for child COVID treatment
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday gave its first full approval for a COVID-19 treatment for children under 12.
The agency granted approval to the treatment remdesivir, also known as Veklury, made by Gilead Sciences, which has already been approved as a treatment for adults.
The approval covers children 28 days and older who weigh at least 3 kilograms (about 7 pounds) and are either hospitalized or at high-risk of severe illness.
The treatment was earlier under emergency use authorization for children. Full approval from the FDA provides a more formal and higher level of endorsement than emergency authorization.
Still, the FDA stressed that remdesivir is not a replacement for vaccination, and there is still no authorized vaccine for children under 5, a source of stress and disappointment for some parents.
Read more here.
FEARS OF LOCKDOWN SWELL IN BEIJING AMID NEW COVID OUTBREAK
Parts of Beijing began mass COVID-19 testing on Monday, prompting concerns of a lockdown and panic buying because of an uptick in cases.
Only 70 cases had been detected since Friday in the city of 21 million people. But Chaoyang, which is one of the largest districts in the city with a population of 3.5 million, announced on Sunday it would launch a mass testing effort.
Of Beijing’s 70 cases, 46 were in Chaoyang, Reuters reported, citing a local health official.
Following the announcement, people in Beijing hurried to supermarkets and the country’s stock markets dropped amid fears of a longer, stringent lockdown, the news service added.
“The city has recently seen several outbreaks involving multiple transmission chains, and the risk of continued and undetected transmission is high. The situation is urgent and grim,” municipal official Tian Wei said on Saturday, CNN reported. “The whole city must act immediately.”
Read more here.
BYE, BYE BIRD BATHS?
Officials are advising people in Illinois not to use bird feeders or bird baths amid a nationwide outbreak of the avian flu.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is recommending Illinoisans not use bird feeders or bird baths through May 31 or until the outbreak subsides, saying wild birds will have enough food throughout the spring.
Health officials are also recommending people clean any bird baths or feeders that cannot be removed; report any instance in which five or more birds were found dead; and immediately report any sick or dead bald eagles.
The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has spread across the country this year, affecting commercial flocks and wild birds.
Bald eagles have also been impacted, raising an alert in Georgia earlier this month after at least three of the national birds were found dead on the coast.
IDNR first reported HPAI among a flock of wild Canada geese on March 10. Since then, officials detected the avian flu in Champaign, Fulton, Sangamon and Will counties.
Read more here.
Union: OPM hasn’t addressed health, safety concerns
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) on Monday accused the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) of failing to address health safety concerns as it reopens its offices following the pandemic.
The union claims that there are parts of OPM’s offices that lack running water, that there are no food sources, inadequate facilities and no social distancing plans.
OPM employees returned to the agency’s offices on Monday, but the AFGE said the reopening has not been properly bargained and that health concerns have not been addressed. As a result, the union said it has filed 13 labor complaints against OPM.
“Recently, our union applauded OPM’s guidance encouraging agencies to collectively bargain with the union, so it is troubling to hear that OPM leadership is not addressing the workplace concerns of our members,” AFGE President Everett Kelley said.
“We will continue our collaborative efforts with our union partners as we navigate our evolving hybrid work environment,” an OPM official told The Hill when reached for comment.
Read more here.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- One child has died in mystery liver disease outbreak, WHO says (NBC News)
- Millions of COVID-19 shots set to go to waste, as vaccine rollout slows (ABC News)
- White House’s Jen Psaki offered a binder full of Covid spending details. Taking a peek was a process (Stat)
STATE BY STATE
- Physicians Are Uneasy as Colorado Collects Providers’ Diversity Data (Kaiser Health News)
- Many thought syphilis was an obsolete disease, but cases are up in Virginia (WTOP)
- Oklahoma abortion clinics were briefly a haven for people needing care – now new bans loom (Guardian)
OP-EDS IN THE HILL
- Are face masks needed on airplanes?
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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