What Happened, What You Missed: August 29-September 2


FDA Authorizes Boosters Tailored to BA.5

On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized bivalent COVID-19 booster shots from Pfizer and Moderna that target both the original COVID-19 strain and the Omicron BA.4/5 subvariants.   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is widely expect to sign-off on the boosters today, which means pharmacies could start administering doses after Labor Day weekend.  According to the FDA, it may take up to two months before data is available on how effective the updated boosters are at preventing infection.  So far, the federal government has secured 171 million doses from Pfizer and Moderna.

House Democrats Consider CR through December 16

According to news reports, House Democratic leaders are working on a continuing resolution (CR) that would extend current government funding levels through December 16.  The current fiscal year ends on September 30, and House Democrats are hoping to bring their CR to the House floor for consideration during the week of September 12.  While negotiations over stopgap spending bills have typically been contentious, lawmakers may be more willing to cut a deal sooner rather than later this month due to an eagerness to return to the campaign trail ahead of November’s midterm elections.   Of note, a CR could include a reauthorization of FDA user fee programs, which are also set to expire at the end of September.

CDC: Life Expectancy in US Dropped to 76 Years in 2021

Life expectancy in the US fell from 79 years in 2019 to 76.1 years in 2021, according to data from the CDC.  The decline marks the first time life expectancy dropped two consecutive years in nearly a century.  According to the CDC, the decline in life expectancy can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and increases in unintentional injuries, namely drug overdoses.  While a drop in life expectancy was observed in all 50 states, the CDC found that Southern states saw the biggest declines, as well as Indiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, and Oklahoma.

HHS Issues $20M in Grants on Maternal and Infant Health

On Monday, the Biden administration took a major step in carrying out its Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis by announcing investments of over $20 million to improve maternal and infant health.  According to a press release from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the awards include $9 million to the State Maternal Health Innovation Program, $4 million to the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies Program, $3 million to 19 Healthy Start programs to reduce maternal health disparities, and $4.5 million to the Catalyst for Infant Health Equity Program.

ICYMI: Fencing Around Supreme Court Removed

Metal fencing that had surrounded the Supreme Court building for the past few months finally came down earlier this week.  The fences were initially erected in May after a draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade leaked, which prompted protests in front of the court building.  However, the building itself remains closed, and the court has yet to comment on when the building will reopen to the public.

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