Parcare Health Network Faces Probe On COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

Parcare Health Network Faces Probe On COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

By RTTNews Staff Writer | Published: 12/28/2020 10:14 AM ET

New York State Health officials are joining with State Police to investigate Parcare Community Health Network for allegedly violating state guidelines for distribution of COVID-19 vaccine by obtaining and distributing them illegally.

In a statement, NY State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker stated that the State Department of Health is aware of reports that "Parcare Community Health Network, an Orange County provider, may have fraudulently obtained COVID-19 vaccine, transferred it to facilities in other parts of the state in violation of state guidelines and diverted it to members of the public…"

He added that this is contrary to the state's plan to administer it first to frontline healthcare workers, as well as nursing home residents and staffers.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn-based health care company reportedly insisted that it followed all proper procedures to get the Moderna vaccines. The company said it was approved to administer the shots by both the state Department of Health as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Following the criminal probe, Parcare further said it proactively returned its remaining stash of COVID-19 vaccines, and also provided the documentation regarding the proper receipt of the vaccines to the State Health department.

ParCare reportedly had administered 869 of 2,300 doses it received through an order placed by the DOH.

ParCare's clinic in Orange County faces the investigation. It operates five other clinics located in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

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Walmart Administers Its First Covid Vaccine In New Mexico

Walmart Administers Its First Covid Vaccine In New Mexico

By RTTNews Staff Writer | Published: 12/24/2020 6:06 AM ET

Walmart said it started administering its first COVID-19 vaccines to health care workers in the state of New Mexico.

The retail giant said the recently approved Moderna vaccine was given to pharmacists at select Walmart stores and Sam's Clubs.

The company is in discussions with other states to support their vaccine administration efforts.

Walmart is preparing its 5,000+ pharmacies at Sam's Clubs and Walmart stores to be ready when the time comes to administer to essential workers, first responders and older Americans in "Priority 1B" and "Priority 1C", as per recommendation by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Walmart earlier had said that it would not have any say in who can receive the vaccine, but is ready to support states once they do.

The federal government allocates the vaccine to states, and states determine who should receive the first doses of the vaccine and when.

In the state of New Mexico, the first doses were given to Walmart's own pharmacists as they will be on the front lines of administering these vaccines. Pharmacy clinical service manager Alexis Abbatantuono, a 13-year associate, was the first Walmart pharmacist to receive a vaccine in its facilities.

The store locations were carefully selected by the New Mexico Department of Health to help ensure that the vaccine is safely administered in rural areas that need help supporting vaccine distribution to health care workers.

Tom Van Gilder, Chief Medical Officer, Walmart, said, "We know the vital role our stores, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians will play in the immunization of communities across the country, so keeping them healthy and safe is a critical first link in the chain of wide vaccine distribution."

The company further said it will also be prepared for all Americans to receive the vaccine in the spring and summer when the broad rollout happens.

On December 10, before the approval of the first covid-19 vaccine BNT162b2 developed by Pfizer Inc. and German biotech firm BioNTech SE, the retail giant had said that it was prepared to administer the COVID-19 vaccine at its pharmacies across the nation.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on December 11 authorized Pfizer – BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use. Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine mRNA-1273 was approved for emergency use on December 18.

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Experts Call Upon Governments To Recommend Higher Doses Of Vitamin D Intake To Fight COVID-19

Experts Call Upon Governments To Recommend Higher Doses Of Vitamin D Intake To Fight COVID-19

By RTTNews Staff Writer | Published: 12/22/2020 11:26 AM ET

A group of over 100 scientists, doctors and health experts from across the globe have written an open letter calling for increased use of Vitamin D to fight the SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The Open Letter calls on all governments, public health officials, doctors, and healthcare workers to recommend daily Vitamin D intake of 4000 IU (100mcg) for adults. According to the signatories, there is ample scientific evidence to suggest that "low Vitamin D levels almost certainly promote COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths".

On December 17, the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued a guideline concluding that there was little evidence for using Vitamin D supplements to prevent or treat COVID-19.

As per the NICE guideline, everyone should take 400 IU (10 microgram) of Vitamin D supplement daily from October to early March, for the maintenance of healthy bone and muscle. The main source of vitamin D is sunlight. But with the pandemic forcing many people to stay indoors more than usual this spring and summer, it is even more important this year to take a Vitamin D supplement as we head through the winter months, stresses the guideline published by the NICE.

The NICE guideline also warns that taking a high dose of Vitamin D over a long period of time could be harmful as it can lead to hypercalcemia, or calcium buildup in the body. That said, the revised NICE guidance agrees that, when more information becomes available, the recommendation on vitamin D supplementation and treatment should be considered for an update.

Contrary to the warning about Vitamin D toxicity, the signatories say that toxicity would be extremely rare with the intake level (4000 IU) they have suggested and that Vitamin D is much safer than steroids, such as dexamethasone, the most widely accepted treatment that has also shown a significant COVID-19 benefit.

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US Covid-19 Vaccination Begins As CDC Recommends Pfizer Vaccine

US Covid-19 Vaccination Begins As CDC Recommends Pfizer Vaccine

By RTTNews Staff Writer | Published: 12/14/2020 3:23 AM ET

The United States started Covid-19 vaccinations on Monday after Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, gave the approval for Pfizer- BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine.

The CDC Director accepted the recommendation by CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices or ACIP for vaccination with Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in people 16 years of age and older. The recommendation follows the Emergency Use Authorization or EUA issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the vaccine on last Friday.

Redfield said, "As COVID-19 cases continue to surge throughout the U.S., CDC's recommendation comes at a critical time."

The Pfizer Vaccine is authorized for use under EUA for active immunization to prevent covid-19 caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2 in individuals 16 years of age and older.

The ACIP recommendation is based on the scientific evidence supporting the COVID-19 vaccine, including data from a Phase 3 clinical study announced last month, as well as on interim guidance that ACIP made on December 1, 2020 regarding the allocation of initial vaccine doses.

The ACIP on December 1 had recommended for a Phase 1a rollout where first priority of COVID-19 vaccines is given to health care personnel treating patients, and residents in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

CNN reported that the first freight trucks carrying around 184,275 vials of the vaccine departed Pfizer's facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Sunday.

The vaccines will be distributed by the U.S. Department of Defense in partnership with agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services, including the CDC, to government-designated facilities across the country.

Earlier, Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, noted that Pfizer would move vaccine from its manufacturing facility to the UPS and FedEx hubs, and then it would go out to already identified 636 locations nationwide.

According to Perna, the estimate is that 145 sites across all the states would have receive vaccine on Monday, another 425 sites on Tuesday, and the final 66 sites on Wednesday in the initial delivery of the Pfizer orders for vaccine.

Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech earlier said they now gather additional data and prepare to file a planned Biologics License Application or BLA with the FDA for a possible full regulatory approval in 2021.

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Roche’s SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Test Being Used As Part Of Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Trials

Roche's SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Test Being Used As Part Of Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Trials

By RTTNews Staff Writer | Published: 12/9/2020 1:22 AM ET

Swiss drug maker Roche Group (RHHBY) announced Wednesday a partnership with Moderna Inc. to utilise the Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 S antibody test in Moderna's ongoing mRNA-1273 vaccine research trials.

The company noted that its Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 S test can quantitatively measure the level of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in vaccine trial participants. It will help to establish a correlation between vaccine-induced protection and levels of anti-receptor binding domain or RBD antibodies.

Significantly, Moderna's vaccine triggers antibody response specifically to the RBD of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

According to the company, measuring the quantitative levels of anti-RBD SARS-CoV-2 antibodies using Roche's test will help Moderna to gain valuable insights into the correlation between protection from vaccination and antibody levels. This could play a role in assessing if, or when, an individual needs revaccination, or in helping to answer other clinically relevant questions.

Roche recently received Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 S antibody test.

Thomas Schinecker, CEO Roche Diagnostics, said, "Roche values the collaboration with Moderna, which has already included the successful use of our qualitative Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 test, targeting the nucleocapsid protein, in an earlier part of the studies. We are pleased to see that our quantitative Elecsys SARS-CoV-2 S test, which targets the spike protein, is now also being used as part of the Moderna vaccine trials, which could ultimately help to end this pandemic."

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FDA Authorizes Emergency Use Of Pfizer BioNTech’s COVID-19 Vaccine

FDA Authorizes Emergency Use Of Pfizer, BioNTech's COVID-19 Vaccine

By RTTNews Staff Writer | Published: 12/11/2020 11:05 PM ET

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for emergency use, the first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved in the U.S.

The emergency use authorization allows BNT162b2, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, to be distributed in the U.S for people over the age of 16. It was found to be 95 percent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in clinical trials.

"Today's emergency use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine holds the promise to alter the course of this pandemic in the United States," Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a press release.

An emergency use authorization means that the FDA has given the drug a special authorization to be used during an emergency period. Pfizer would have to file a separate application for its vaccine to be fully approved by the FDA. Meanwhile, researchers will continue to monitor the vaccine's effectiveness in the real world.

FDA's decision to issue an emergency use authorization for the vaccine comes after it faced pressure from the White House to authorize the vaccine. Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the FDA, to resign if the vaccine was not cleared by Friday, according to the Washington Post. The agency had originally planned to complete the authorization by Saturday.

"The FDA's authorization for emergency use of the first COVID-19 vaccine is a significant milestone in battling this devastating pandemic that has affected so many families in the United States and around the world," said Hahn said in a statement. "Today's action follows an open and transparent review process that included input from independent scientific and public health experts and a thorough evaluation by the agency's career scientists to ensure this vaccine met FDA's rigorous, scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization.

On Thursday, FDA's vaccine advisory committee had recommended the emergency use of the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine has already received a temporary authorization for emergency use in the U.K., Canada, and Bahrain.

Mexico's health agency Cofepris has also approved Pfizer's vaccine for emergency use, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said at a press conference on Friday.

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Gallup Poll: Americans’ Mental Health Ratings Hit New Low

Gallup Poll: Americans' Mental Health Ratings Hit New Low


(Dreamstime)

By Lynn Allison | Monday, 07 December 2020 11:44 AM

According to a new Gallup poll, America’s mental health has deteriorated to the worst point it has been in two decades.

Only 34% of U.S. adults say their mental health is excellent, down from 43% last year. Experts said that while our mental health has suffered this year likely due to the coronavirus, our physical health hasn’t changed substantially, according to the latest numbers.

However, the 9-point decline in mental health ratings has healthcare officials worried.

“The latest weakening in positive ratings, from a Nov. 5-9 poll, are undoubtedly influenced by the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to profoundly disrupt people’s lives, but may also reflect views of the election and the state of race relations, both of which were on America’s minds this year,” said the Gallup report.

Gallup has conducted the November Health and Healthcare survey annually since 2001, asking Americans to rate their mental or emotional well-being as excellent, good, only fair, or poor. Usually, the readings for excellent and good range from 81% to 89% until this year, when it fell to 76%.

Women, Republicans, independents, and those who do not attend regular religious services had the largest drop in positive ratings, along with white adults, singles, older adults, and lower-income Americans. Democrats and frequent churchgoers had the least change in mental wellness, according to the poll.

The poll, conducted Nov. 5-9, surveyed a random sample of 1,018 adults nationwide. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, acknowledges that the pervasive climate of anxiety, stress, and isolation caused by COVID-19 is harmful to mental health and offers these tips:

  1. Maintain a routine. If you are not used to working from home, create a teleworking routine that helps you get into the right mindset. Designate a work area and stick to regular working hours. Make sure you shower and dress in the morning and wear casual work clothes — not sweats — to signal the start of the workday.
  2. Take reasonable precautions, but don’t go overboard. Follow reliable sources of information, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to keep you up to date on health precautions you should be taking. This is important, says NAMI, if you suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or health anxiety. In other words, if the CDC recommends washing your hands for 20 seconds, don’t make it a minute.
  3. Find ways to get motivated. If you are prone to depression and are finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning, focus on accomplishing chores or start a project. Exercise is a good mood booster and there are thousands of workout videos online to help you get started.
  4. Stick to consistent mealtimes. Avoid stress-snacking and eat regular meals to maintain mental and physical equilibrium. Try to eat healthy foods, however, but a freshly baked cookie now and then might just be the comfort food you need right now.

For more tips, check out the NAMI website.

© 2020 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

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US COVID Hospitalizations Cross 100K New Deaths And Cases Break Record

US COVID Hospitalizations Cross 100K; New Deaths And Cases Break Record

By RTTNews Staff Writer | Published: 12/3/2020 6:41 AM ET

The number of people hospitalized with coronavirus infection has crossed 100000, and daily COVID deaths and new cases reached all time high on Wednesday.

As per the latest update published by COVID Tracking Project on Thursday, a total of 100,226 patients are currently admitted in U.S. hospitals with coronavirus infection —the first time hospitalizations have exceeded the 100000 mark.

With 3,194 new deaths reporting in the last 24 hours, the country's total number of COVID-19 casualties increased to 273836, as per latest data from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

This is the highest daily casualty figure reported in the country, and an increase of about 20 percent from the previous record of 2,603 set on April 15.

It is for the first time that more than 3100 deaths due to the pandemic were reported in a single day in the United States.

In the same period, 2,03,653 new cases were reported nationwide, taking the national total to 13924957. Ten months after the first coronavirus case was reported in the country, daily infections crossed the 2,000,00 mark for the first time on Wednesday.

California reported more than 20000 COVID-19 cases, one tenth of the national total. It is set to overtake Texas as the worst affected state in the country.

As the number of hospitalizations steadily growing since last month, breaking records almost every day, the American Ambulance Association said in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services that the 911 emergency call system is "at a breaking point".

CDC Director Robert Redfield warned that these next three months will be the most difficult time in U.S. history. "The reality is December and January and February are going to be rough times. I actually believe they're going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation," he said during a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shortened the recommended length of standard quarantine period for people without symptoms. According to revised guidance issued Wednesday, CDC recommends two additional options for how long quarantine should last. "Based on local availability of viral testing, for people without symptoms quarantine can end on day 10 without testing, and on day 7 after receiving a negative test result".

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview that the United Kingdom's health regulators who authorized Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine did not scrutinize the trial data as carefully as the US Food and Drug Administration is doing in its review.

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