The White House prepares for an end to the Covid-19 PHE – POLITICO

by | Dec 13, 2022 | COVID-19

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Ashish Jha said work is going on behind the scenes to prepare for the end of the Covid-19 emergency. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

PREPPING FOR THE END — Even as Covid-19 cases are rising across the country, preparations for the end of the public health emergency are in full swing within the administration, Ashish Jha, the White House Covid response coordinator, said during a Health Affairs event Tuesday.Even as Jha and others talk this week with governors and local health officials about what they need to get through the current rise in cases, “in the background — and not so far in the background — we have a group of people on our team who are thinking about the transition,” he said.Keeping access open: During the transition, the federal government will cease buying Covid vaccines, treatment and diagnostics as the virus, like influenza, becomes integrated into our health system. When exactly that happens “is driven by a few factors, not the least of which is lack of congressional funding,” he said.Jha thinks it’s reasonable to “move a lot of this stuff into the normal healthcare market.” But, he said, “We want to make sure that people don’t all of a sudden wake up one morning and say, ‘Oh, I no longer have access to treatment.’”Among the highest priorities: Making sure treatment and other services remain accessible to the uninsured and at-risk Americans who are insured but still face financial barriers to health care access. “I do not want a low-income senior unable to afford Paxlovid or unable to afford diagnostic testing,” he added.Rising sea levels: The longer-term planning relates to how Covid is expected to become a part of the annual burden that hospitals face, Jha said.Before the pandemic, respiratory diseases were already “at the top of the seawall, with a little bit of splashing, but we’re able to get through every winter.” With a winter spike in Covid cases piled on top of viruses like the flu and respiratory syncytial virus, he said, “we are going to for years be challenged to manage multiple highly contagious respiratory viruses.”The current big areas of focus on that front, he said, are improving indoor air quality and looking toward a new generation of vaccines and treatments.WELCOME TO TUESDAY PULSE — Remember Hunga Tonga, the undersea volcano that erupted earlier this year? New research shows the massive event sent 4 million metric tons of water vapor 93 miles above Earth, catching the attention of scientists who track space weather. While we try and wrap our heads around this, please send your news and tips to [email protected] and [email protected].TODAY ON OUR PULSE CHECK PODCAST, Katherine Ellen Foley talks with Megan Messerly about the situation inside hospitals as Covid, RSV and flu cases spike. Nearly 30,000 people in U.S. hospitals have tested positive for Covid-19, according to the CDC, up 30 percent since Thanksgiving.

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In Congress

Lawmakers are worried about Pfizer’s reported plans to raise the price of the Covid vaccine next year. | Greg Lehman/Walla Walla Union-Bulletin via AP

FIRST IN PULSE (I) — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and incoming senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) are demanding answers from Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla about reported plans to quadruple the price of the Covi …

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