03/24/23 – Weekly Health Update

03/24/23 – Weekly Health Update

CHAP’s Weekly Health Update

In this “one-stop-shop” update, CHAP will provide a roundup of important COVID-19, Flu, and other 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.


COVID-19 Variants by Region & Map Key

Seasonal Flu Data – Note the state in dark blue and red that have very high flu rates at this time. Please take proper infection control actions in these areas.

CDC and Other Federal Health Updates

FDA Update (3/17/23)

The FDA updated the webpage Medical Device Shortages During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency to reflect changes to expected shortage durations.

COVID-19 News Headlines

FDA Considers Authorizing Another Round of Updated COVID-19 Booster Shots for Some (3/21/23)

The FDA is considering authorizing a second omicron-specific booster shot for people aged 65 and older or who have weakened immune systems. One source said that the decision is not yet final, noting that officials could change their minds.  While uptake of the updated booster so far has been low – just 16% of the U.S. population has rolled up their sleeves for the shot – some recipients are eager to get another boost.

The Biden administration has been eyeing a shift to an annual COVID-19 booster shot schedule to potentially begin in the fall. But the FDA previously acknowledged that “two doses of an approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccine may be needed to induce the expected protective immunity for those who have a low likelihood of prior exposure (the very young) or those who may not generate a protective immune response (older and immunocompromised individuals).”

Moderna Expects to Price of its COVID Vaccine at About $130 in the US (3/21/23)

Moderna Inc expects to price its COVID-19 vaccine at around $130 per dose in the U.S. going forward as purchases move to the private sector from the government.

COVID-19 Deaths in U.S. Drop to Near Pandemic Low (3/20/23)

The number of COVID-19 deaths reported in the U.S. last week was the lowest it’s been in nearly three years, according to data from the CDC.  The positive trends come after the U.S. for the first time during the pandemic avoided a winter surge. The development’s main driver is likely the high level of immunity across the population whether through vaccination, infection or both.  Additionally, the main coronavirus strain circulating in the U.S. is showing signs of plateauing. Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 makes up 90% of new coronavirus cases with no other strain yet posing a challenge to the strain’s dominance.

But as attention shifts away from COVID-19, data collecting and sharing is suffering. Many of the trackers people came to rely on during the worst days of the pandemic have shut down, with the CDC announcing last week that it’s “COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review” will end on May 12 – one day after the Biden administration plans to let the COVID-19 emergency declarations expire.

4 COVID vaccine doses best prevent critical Omicron BA.5, even after BA.1/BA.2 infection (3/13/23)

Four COVID-19 booster doses were the most effective way to prevent critical Omicron BA.5, regardless of previous infection status, according to a nationwide study published late last week in JAMA Network Open.  The observation that the protection against critical BA.5 infection depends more on 4-dose booster, rather than previous BA.1 or BA.2 infection, highlights the importance of booster vaccination.