February 2021 Newsletter


news & updates
February 2021
HHS expands PREP Act protection to federal employees, contractors and volunteers
The Department of Health and Human Services amended its declaration providing liability protection under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act to include federal government employees, contractors and volunteers authorized to prescribe, administer, deliver, distribute or dispense COVID-19 medical countermeasures.
The amendment took effect Feb. 10.
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AHA calls for evidence-based approach to post-pandemic telehealth policies
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission should thoroughly review provider and patient experiences with the vast array of virtual services employed during the COVID-19 pandemic before proposing telehealth policies for after the public health emergency, AHA told the panel last week.
“The AHA strongly supports MedPAC’s continued conversations of the post-pandemic future of telehealth policy,” the association wrote. “The increased use of telehealth since the start of the PHE is producing high-quality outcomes for patients, closing longstanding workforce gaps and those that arose as a result of a sickened and exhausted provider corps, and protecting access for patients too vulnerable to risk infection. This shift in care delivery could outlast the PHE if the appropriate statutory and regulatory framework is established.
What Do Reinfections Mean for COVID’s Future?
— Data aren’t clear, but one certainty is that less spread means less success for escape variants
New variants of SARS-CoV-2 that potentially escape human immune response have the world on edge, raising concerns as to whether they will undermine efforts to bring the pandemic under control with vaccination.
There are no easy answers, mainly because the data are ambiguous or lacking entirely. Reinfections have been notoriously difficult to get a handle on, as viral genome sequencing isn’t ubiquitous, making it difficult to compare two separate infections in the same person over a period of time. (Plus, reinfections will never be identified as such in people whose initial bout went undetected.) It’s therefore impossible to say definitively whether reinfection is occurring more frequently now with new variants compared to wild-type virus.
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