Health Care — Fauci says he isn’t planning on retiring

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Anthony Fauci has put to rest any speculation that he might be retiring, saying he plans to continue working even after he leaves his government position behind.

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Fauci: ‘I’m not going to retire’

Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, clarified on Tuesday that he does not plan to retire, though he has been considering when he will step down from his current government position.

After Politico on Monday published an interview with Fauci, 81, in which he said he did not expect to stay on in his current position by the end of Biden’s current term, a frenzy of media speculation arose around the veteran immunologist’s potential retirement.

Speaking at The Hill’s “Future of Health Care Summit,” Fauci said definitively that he is not retiring.

For the record: “I’m not going to retire. No, no, I’m not going to retire. I may step down from my current position at some time,” Fauci told The Hill contributing editor Steve Clemons.

He said that he had been asked if he would continue working for the federal government if former President Trump won in the 2024 presidential election. Trump is widely expected to announce his intentions for the 2024 election later this year.

  • “I said a very innocent but true thing. I said whether it’s Donald Trump or it’s Joe Biden’s second term, I don’t intend to be in my current position in January of 2025,” Fauci said. 

  • Fauci’s future: “What happens between now and then I have not decided, but the one thing I do know is that I have other things that I want to do in a professional way that I want to have the capability — while I still have the energy and the passion to do them.”

Read more here.

CDC panel OKs Novavax COVID-19 vaccine

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory committee on Tuesday unanimously voted to recommend the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, giving a green light to a fourth shot to fight the virus.

Limited impact: The Novavax vaccine is not expected to play a major role in the U.S. vaccination campaign, given that it is intended for the initial doses, not as a booster, and most people have already received their initial vaccinations.

Will it sway some unvaccinated? Some hope that it could play a role persuading the vaccine-hesitant to get their shots. The Novavax vaccine uses a more traditional vaccine technology, compared to the mRNA technology used by Pfizer and Moderna. Therefore, it could influence those who had reservations about the Pfizer and Moderna products.

Following the panel’s 12-0 vote, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky will have the final step to sign off on the vaccine.

The Biden administration previously announced it was purchasing 3.2 million doses of Novavax.

“We remain committed to working to ensure that anyone eligible who wants a vaccine can get one,” Jason Roos, a Department of Health and Human Services official, said earlier this month in making the purchase.

Read more here.

GAWANDE: USAID COVID RESPONSE QUICKLY RUNNING OUT OF MONEY

The U.S. Agency for International Development’s global coronavirus response will run out of money in the coming weeks without new funding from Congress, USAID Assistant Administrator for Global Health Atul Gawande warned on Tuesday.

“We are grinding our operations to a halt,” Gawande said at The Hill’s Future of Health Care Summit. “The COVID task force will have to go away in the next couple of months.”

As Americans adjust to a new reality of living with COVID-19 variants — aided by vaccines and treatments — Gawande told The Hill contributing editor Steve Clemons that leaders must not lose sight of the importance of helping address the spread of the virus overseas.

Gawande said funding for the task force ran out last month, and the agency has been lobbying lawmakers since December to reup the financing at a minimum of $5 billion. So far, however, Congress has delivered none.

“In places like the United States, we now have the tools … to disconnect the cases from the deaths so far,” Gawande said at the event, sponsored by AdvaMed, Butterfly, Emergent and Protect the Promise. “Those rapid diagnostic tests for people in most of sub-Saharan Africa and Haiti and other parts of the world … they’re not there.”

Read more here.

MAJORITY OF AMERICANS THINKS COVID WILL NEVER GO AWAY: POLL

A large majority of Americans believe that COVID-19 will always be around, according to new polling data released on Tuesday, with pandemic pessimism appearing to be rising — along with recent case counts.

  • The Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index found that 78 percent of Americans surveyed agreed with the statement “We will never fully be rid of the coronavirus in my lifetime.” This trend was consistent for Democrats, Republicans and independents. 

  • At the same time, 29 percent of respondents said they believed that the pandemic was over, indicating there was some overlap between those who believe the SARS-CoV-2 virus will never go away but also consider pandemic conditions to be over.

After several months of stagnation, the U.S. average COVID-19 case rate has once again begun to rise as the omicron BA.5 subvariant has risen to become the dominant strain in the country. While infections are rising, pandemic fatigue has been noted to be at an all-time high, with a minority of people now willing to take up mitigation efforts.

The Axios-Ipsos poll noted that only 36 percent of respondents said they wear a mask when outside their home, the lowest rate observed since the beginning of the pandemic. The same percentage of respondents said they never wear a mask when outside their home, a 14 percent jump from this same time last year.

Read more here.

Doctor who provided abortion sues Indiana AG

Caitlin Bernard, the Indiana OB/GYN who provided services to a 10-year-old Ohio girl who traveled out of state to receive an abortion, filed for damages against Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) Tuesday.

Bernard claimed Rokita made “false and misleading” statements about her to both local and national media.

When news of Bernard’s actions rose to national attention, Rokita publicly said on platforms like Fox News that he intended on investigating whether or not Bernard had filed the proper notices for abortions under Indiana state law.

  • “We’re gathering the evidence as we speak, and we’re going to fight this to the end, including looking at her licensure if she failed to report. And in Indiana it’s a crime … to intentionally not report,” Rokita said on Fox News. 

  • During the same interview last week, Rokita claimed that Bernard had “a history of failing to report” abortions and called her an “abortion activist acting as a doctor.”

The allegations: “Mr. Rokita’s false and misleading statements about alleged misconduct by Dr. Bernard in her profession constitute defamation per se,” Bernard’s claim stated. “To the extent that these statements exceed the general scope of Mr. Rokita’s authority as Indiana’s Attorney General, the statement forms the basis of an actionable defamation claim against Mr. Rokita individually.”

Read more here.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • With monkeypox spreading globally, many experts believe the virus can’t be contained (Stat)

  • Doubting mainstream medicine, COVID patients find dangerous advice and pills online (NPR)

  • US health insurers raise rates to match increase in usage (Associated Press)

STATE BY STATE

  • L.A. County goes it alone in push for new coronavirus mask rules, igniting familiar debate (Los Angeles Times)

  • Mosquito pool in Davis County tests positive for West Nile virus, 1st in Utah this year (KSL.com)

  • Abortion clinic drops its lawsuit, leaving legality of abortion in Mississippi in limbo (Mississippi Today)

OP-EDS IN THE HILL

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.

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