January 25, 2022
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Fauci: Omicron surge could peak by mid-February
Fauci. (Pool/Getty Images)
COVID-19 case numbers appear to be heading in the right direction, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who said he expects Omicron variant cases to have peaked in most states by mid-February. Nationwide, COVID-19 cases for the past seven days are down 12% from the previous week, but average COVID-19-related deaths have reached 2,200 per day, up 11% from the prior week and the highest in 11 months.
Full Story: ABC News (1/23),  Reuters (1/24) 
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Health Care News
Findings reported in the journal Pediatric Neurology found that headaches and other persisting neurological symptoms, such as acute encephalopathy, can affect over 40% of children hospitalized for COVID-19. The study also found that out of 1,493 cases from 30 pediatric critical care centers worldwide, ​215 kids had multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, ​while 86% had acute COVID-19, with neurological symptoms more prevalent among pediatric patients with MIS-C.
Full Story: HealthDay News (1/24) 
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Financial aid may influence infant brain function
Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found 1-year-old babies with low-income mothers who had received $333 per month in cash aid for a year demonstrated more of a type of brain activity linked with stronger cognitive development, compared with infants whose mothers received $20 per month. "This is the first study to show that money, in and of itself, has a causal impact on brain development," according to Dr. Kimberly Noble, who helped lead the research.
Full Story: The New York Times (1/24) 
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A report published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that among 6,799 infants born to women with confirmed or possible Zika virus infection during pregnancy from the US Zika Pregnancy and Infant Registry from December 2015 to March 2018, 4.6% had a Zika-associated brain or eye defect, while 35% of infants had more than one defect reported. The report also found a higher frequency of defects in a subgroup of pregnancies with confirmed Zika virus infection at 6.1%.
Full Story: Healio (free registration)/Infectious Disease News (1/21) 
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Research published in JAMA Network Open found that myopia progressed more rapidly in children during the period of COVID-19-related lockdowns. Researchers also observed that defocus incorporated multiple segments lens treatment was associated with 34% less axial elongation and 46% less myopic progression after 12 months compared with single vision lens treatment.
Full Story: HealthDay News (1/21) 
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Pharmaceutical News
CDC researchers who analyzed data from 259 hospitals and 383 emergency departments from late August through early January found a booster dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine lowered risk of hospitalization or ED visits by 94% when the Delta variant was widespread and 82% as the Omicron variant began to spread. Two other studies released by the CDC found that individuals who received three doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine were less likely to test positive or develop symptomatic illness than those with less protection.
Full Story: CNBC (1/21) 
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Emerging Trends, Products and Technologies
A Congressional Budget Office report found commercial health insurance providers generally pay significantly higher prices for physician and hospital services than Medicare, and the prices paid by insurers also vary more widely among geographic areas compared with prices paid by Medicare. The report suggests that health care provider organizations are gaining market power, which could lead to higher insurance premiums.
Full Story: Becker's Payer Issues (1/21) 
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A survey of more than 13,000 US physicians from 29 areas of specialty indicated that many are dealing with high levels of stress and feelings of burnout. Overall, 47% of physicians said they were affected by burnout over the last year, compared to 42% a year ago.
Full Story: Medscape (free registration) (1/21) 
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Health Policy and Legislative News
Private insurers have begun covering the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests for their members under a Biden administration plan; however, the administration's rule does not apply to Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare patients can look for testing options at community facilities and on the new COVIDtests.gov website.
Full Story: National Public Radio (1/24) 
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Senators: Medicare should cover home COVID-19 tests
A coalition of 19 Senate Democrats wrote a letter to CMS and HHS leaders calling for Medicare to cover the cost of home COVID-19 tests for older people and those with disabilities, just as commercial health insurers are doing for their members. The lawmakers argued that those "enrolled in Medicare are at the highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19," and "the current policy leaves them on the hook for potentially significant out-of-pocket costs."
Full Story: FierceHealthcare (1/24) 
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Learn how a dual-stain biomarker test, the CINtec PLUS Cytology, can be used to determine human papillomavirus-positive results at a free webinar tonight, Tuesday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. ET. Be informed as Liza Kunz, MD, FACOG, provides background on this specific testing method, shares the current standard of care in cervical cancer screening and introduces the IMPACT Trial Data. Learn more and register.
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