Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care.
The CDC released new data showing people of color are dying of COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates. State health officials tell Congress they need more money for vaccine distribution. And NARAL, a pro-choice group is calling for new Democratic leadership on the Senate Judiciary Committee after the top Democrat on the panel Sen. Diane Feinstein (Calif.) praised the proceedings surrounding Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettSix takeaways from Trump and Biden’s dueling town halls Biden draws sharp contrast with Trump in low-key town hall Trump fields questions on coronavirus, conspiracy theories in combative town hall MORE’s confirmation.
Let’s start with some vaccine news:
Pfizer could apply for US emergency use approval for coronavirus vaccine by late November
It’s now looking even more likely that there will not be a coronavirus vaccine before Election Day, a goal that always faced tough odds for success.
Pfizer, the company that had been the most aggressive with its timeline, said Friday it would not apply until at least late November.
In a statement, Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said that as it runs late-stage trials for the potential COVID-19 vaccine, the group may know by the end of October whether the candidate is considered “effective,” meaning it can prevent COVID-19 in a majority of cases.
Bourla added, however, that this would only meet one of the three requirements needed for the vaccine to be able to apply for public use.
“The second requirement is to prove that the vaccine is safe,” Bourla wrote in the statement. “Our internal standards for vaccine safety and those required by regulators are set high. In the instance of Emergency Use Authorization in the U.S. for a potential COVID-19 vaccine, FDA is requiring that companies provide two months of safety data on half of the trial participants following the final dose of the vaccine.”
Bourla added that based on Pfizer’s “current trial enrollment and dosing pace, we estimate we will reach this milestone in the third week of November.”
State health officials tell Congress they need $8.4B for COVID-19 vaccination effort
Even once a vaccine is approved, that’s only part of the battle.
State public health officials are urging Congress to provide at least $8.4 billion in emergency funding for distributing a coronavirus vaccine, warning that they do not currently have enough money to carry out the immense logistical effort.
The letter to bipartisan congressional leaders came from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), a group that represents state public health departments, and the Association of Immunization Managers (AIM), which represents states’ vaccination officials.
While much attention has been placed on the race to develop a coronavirus vaccine, there is also the daunting challenge of distributing that vaccine and getting shots into the arms of more than 300 million people in the United States.
There are additional logistical challenges given that some of the potential vaccines require storage at extremely cold temperatures, meaning they require special freezers.
Claire Hannan, AIM’s executive director, warned in a statement that without additional funding, the vaccination effort is “doomed to fail.”
Trump administration partners with CVS, Walgreens to distribute free COVID vaccines to nursing homes
The Trump administration on Friday announced a partnership with two national pharmacy chains to distribute a potential coronavirus vaccine to residents of long term care facilities for free.
The partnership with CVS and Walgreens will allow health officials to prioritize a vaccine when one becomes available so it can be administered to the most vulnerable populations, including staff.
There is no vaccine available yet. Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca are each racing to develop one, but it will not be imminent.
Whenever a vaccine does become available, supply will initially be extremely limited, and vaccination efforts may focus on those critical to the response, those providing direct care and those at highest risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19, including long-term care facility residents.
Under the program, a facility will be able to opt-in and partner with a chosen pharmacy at no cost. CVS and Walgreens will schedule and coordinate clinic dates directly with each facility, and trained staff will be on hand to deliver the vaccinations.
The program will officially launch on Oct. 19.
CDC: Blacks, Hispanics dying of COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates
Black and Hispanic Americans were disproportionately more likely to die of COVID-19 during the spring and summer months, a new indicator that the coronavirus’s toll is falling most heavily on underserved and minority communities.
A new analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of more than 114,000 Americans who died of COVID-19 between May and August found that 24 percent were Hispanic or Latino, even though only about 18 percent of Americans are of Hispanic decent.
Just 12.5 percent of Americans are Black, but Black people accounted for almost 19 percent of all coronavirus deaths during that four-month period.
About 51 percent of COVID-19 deaths occurred among white non-Hispanic Americans. Non-Hispanic whites account for 76 percent of the U.S. population, according to Census Bureau estimates.
Why the disparity? Minorities are more likely to live in multigenerational or multifamily housing; more likely to work in jobs that require their physical presence such as meatpacking, service and health care jobs; and more likely to suffer from underlying conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, that are tied to worse outcomes among COVID-19 patients.
Prominent abortion rights group wants Feinstein replaced as top Dem on Judiciary Committee
NARAL Pro-Choice America is calling for Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein’s hug of Lindsey Graham sparks outrage on the left Progressive group: Feinstein must step down as top Democrat on Judiciary panel Senate Judiciary to vote on subpoena for Twitter CEO next week MORE (D-Calif.) to be replaced on the Senate Judiciary Committee after the ranking member called Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings “the best set of hearings that I’ve participated in.”
Democrats argue Barrett’s nomination and confirmation hearings are “illegitimate” because the election is just weeks away and millions of people have already voted.
“Americans–whose lives hang in the balance–deserve leadership that underscores how unprecedented, shameful and wrong this process is,” NARAL President Ilyse Hogue said in a statement.
“The Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein, failed to make this clear and in fact offered an appearance of credibility to the proceedings that is wildly out of step with the American people. As such, we believe the committee needs new leadership.”
Why it matters: Demand Justice, a progressive outside group that often challenges the Democratic establishment, called for Feinstein to step down earlier this week. But the move from NARAL Friday came as a shock for an organization that typically aligns with Democratic leaders.
NARAL and other pro-choice groups have been the fiercest opponents of Barrett’s nomination, arguing her confirmation to the court would endanger Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that established a woman’s right to abortion. They also worry about how Barrett will rule on a pending case that could result in the overturning of the Affordable Care Act.
What we’re reading:
Hospitals search for enough beds and nurses as virus rebounds (Politico)
White House puts more ‘politicals’ at CDC to try to control info (AP)
Who decides when vaccine studies are done? Internal documents show Fauci plays a key role (ProPublica)
State by state
Wisconsin breaks yet another daily record as coronavirus numbers soar to new heights (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
More than 1,500 Iowans have died from COVID-19. Here are 10 of their stories. (Des Moines Register)
Surge in COVID-19 cases means fewer Minnesota schools meet in-person rules (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)