CHAP’s COVID-19 Weekly Update
In this “one-stop-shop” update, CHAP will provide a roundup of important COVID-19 information from various federal sources.

All health care providers should be monitoring COVID-19 incidence rates in their state/county on an ongoing basis.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC provides weekly data about case rates, deaths, testing, and vaccine administration on their COVID tracker webpage.

 

CDC – Test to Treat (4/4/22)
The new nationwide Test to Treat initiative provides quick access to free treatment for COVID-19. Through this program, people can get tested and – if they are positive and treatments are appropriate for them – receive a prescription from a health care provider, and have their prescription filled all at one location.

 

FDA Updates

Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee Meeting Announcement (04/06/2022)
The committee will meet in an open session to discuss considerations for use of COVID-19 vaccine booster doses and the process for COVID-19 vaccine strain selection to address current and emerging variants.

(4/5/22) The FDA announced sotrovimab is no longer authorized to treat COVID-19 in any U.S. region due to increases in the proportion of COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron BA.2 sub-variant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Nowcast data estimates that the proportion of COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron BA.2 variant is above 50% in all Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) U.S. regions. Data included in the health care provider fact sheet shows the authorized dose of sotrovimab is unlikely to be effective against the BA.2 sub-variant.

 

Eligible Individuals Can Receive Second COVID-19 Booster Shot at No Cost (CMS, 4/6/22)
CMS announced it will pay for a second COVID-19 booster shot of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines without cost-sharing, as it continues to provide coverage for this critical protection from the virus. People with Medicare pay nothing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and there is no applicable copayment, coinsurance, or deductible. People with Medicaid coverage can also get COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, at no cost.

The CDC recently updated its recommendations regarding COVID-19 vaccinations. Certain immunocompromised individuals and people ages 50 years and older who received an initial booster dose at least 4 months ago are eligible for another booster to increase their protection against severe disease from COVID-19. Additionally, the CDC recommends that adults who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least 4 months ago can receive a second booster dose of a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

 

Biden-Harris Administration Announces a New Way for Medicare Beneficiaries to Get Free Over the Counter COVID-19 Tests (HHS, 4/4/22)
The Biden-Harris Administration is announcing today that more than 59 million Americans with Medicare Part B, including those enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, now have access to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved, authorized, or cleared over the counter COVID-19 tests at no cost. People with Medicare can get up to eight tests per calendar month from participating pharmacies and health care providers for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

 

Press Briefing by White House COVID-⁠19 Response Team and HHS Public Health Officials (4/5/22)
Excerpt from the briefing, CDC, Dr. Walensky – New national estimates released today show the Omicron sub-lineage, BA.2 is now projected to account for 72 percent of circulating variants nationally, with all regions of the country reporting that BA.2 is now the dominant variant.

As we’ve previously shared about the BA.2 variant, there is no evidence that BA.2 results in more severe disease compared with the BA.1 variant, nor does it appear to be more likely to evade immune protection than BA.1.  But BA.2 does appear to be more transmissible than BA.1.

The high level of immunity in the population from vaccines, boosters, and previous infections will provide some level of protection against BA.2.  However, we strongly encourage everyone to be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines.

Looking across the country, we see that 95 percent of counties are reporting low COVID-19 community levels, which represent over 97 percent of the U.S. population.

If we look more closely at the local level, we find a handful of counties where we are seeing increases in both cases and markers of more severe disease, like hospitalizations and in-patient bed capacity, which have resulted in an increased COVID-19 community level in some areas.