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HHS Bars Wuhan Institute of Virology From Receiving U.S. Funding for Next 10 Years: ‘Obvious Step in the Right Direction’
The Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday that it has officially barred the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) from receiving U.S. funding for the next 10 years, as more evidence points to the COVID-19 pandemic leaking out of a Chinese lab.
The Office of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra sent a letter on Tuesday to WIV Director General Dr. Yanyi Wang informing her that the lab — which conducted risky gain-of-function experiments on bat coronaviruses — will be denied U.S. research grants until July 16, 2033.
“This is especially timely as mounting evidence and intelligence continue to suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic originated from a laboratory failure in Wuhan,” House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) said. “Rewarding the likely source of a global pandemic with American resources will only lead to more future health risks.”
“Further, the Select Subcommittee recently revealed that prominent public health authorities — including Dr. Anthony Fauci — knew about the risky laboratory conditions in Wuhan prior to the spread of COVID-19 worldwide,” he added.
U.S. taxpayers forked over $2,168,345 in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to the Chinese research institutions from 2014 to 2021, according to a Government Accountability Office report released in June.
Biden Administration Announces $600 Million to Produce COVID Tests and Will Reopen Website to Order Them
The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it is providing $600 million in funding to produce new at-home COVID-19 tests and is restarting a website allowing Americans to again order up to four free tests per household — aiming to prevent possible shortages during a rise in coronavirus cases that has typically come during colder months.
Twelve manufacturers that employ hundreds of people in seven states from California to Maryland have been awarded funding and will produce 200 million over-the-counter tests to replenish federal stockpiles for government use, in addition to producing enough tests to meet demand for tests ordered online, the department said.
It is also meant to complement ongoing federal efforts to provide free COVID tests to long-term care facilities, schools, low-income senior housing, uninsured individuals and underserved communities which are already distributing 4 million per week and have distributed 500 million tests to date, the department said.
New COVID Vaccine Campaign off to a Bumpy Start
The launch of the newly approved COVID-19 vaccines, the first campaign since the federal pandemic emergency ended, is off to a bumpy start.
Reports are piling up of insured Americans being stuck with the nearly $200 bill for shots, which were approved last week. The new vaccines are designed to protect against new strains of the coronavirus and are recommended for everyone older than 6 months.
Anyone with health insurance — either through private insurers or federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid — should be able to receive the new COVID vaccines for free.
But that’s not always happening, according to news reports and complaints on social media. As CBS News reported, the vaccines have new billing codes, and insurers are still updating their plans to cover the shots.
UN Delegates Approve Political Declaration on Pandemic Readiness
Following the first-ever head-of-state summit on pandemic preparedness at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly today, leaders approved a political declaration that spells out steps to better prepare the world for the next pandemic.
Among several measures, the declaration recognizes the need for member states to finish work on a Pandemic Accord, a legal instrument that would be used to ensure that countries are better prepared to prevent and respond to future pandemics.
Today’s pandemic declaration also covers population sustainable and equitable access to medical countermeasures, steps to address misinformation, protect health systems, strengthen the World Health Organization (WHO), and boost the healthcare workforce and surveillance efforts.
David Marlow, chief executive officer of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said in a statement that the sad fact is that there will be future pandemics. “The only question that remains is — will we be better prepared next time? With this declaration, countries have taken an important step towards breaking the panic-neglect cycle and crafting a global framework to support future response,” he added.
Inhaled Glucocorticoid Flops for Speeding COVID Recovery in Outpatients — Fluticasone Furoate ‘Not a Favorable’ Therapy for COVID, Say Researchers
Inhaled fluticasone furoate failed to shorten recovery time for non-hospitalized adults with COVID-19, new data from the adaptive ACTIV-6 trial found.
When used daily for 2 weeks, a quicker COVID-19 recovery time — considered at least 3 consecutive days without symptoms — was no more likely with fluticasone furoate than with placebo (HR 1.01, 95% CI 0.91-1.12), according to Susanna Naggie, MD, MHS, of Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues.
Yet a numerically higher rate of urgent care/emergency department visits and hospitalizations was observed in the fluticasone furoate group (3.7% vs 2.1%, respectively; HR 1.90, 95% CI 0.90-3.50), the researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Combined, the lack of treatment effect and that possible increase in healthcare usage suggest that the inhaled glucocorticoid is “not a favorable” therapy for COVID-19, wrote Naggie and co-authors.