U.S. Government Allocates $3.2 Billion for COVID-19 Antiviral Pills

Department of Health & Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services will invest $3.2 billion to develop and manufacture COVID-19 antiviral medicines, it announced Thursday.

The initiative, funded as part of the American Rescue Plan, is designed to accelerate research into antivirals as well as build platforms for urgent response to future viral threats, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a statement Thursday. Specifically, the plan expands antiviral clinical trials, forms partnerships between health agencies and pharmaceutical companies, and funds “drug discovery groups” tasked with innovating new antiviral medicines.

“New antivirals that prevent serious COVID-19 illness and death, especially oral drugs that could be taken at home early in the course of disease, would be powerful tools for battling the pandemic and saving lives,” said chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci in the statement.

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Minnesota’s COVID-19 Hospitalizations Drop Below 400

Doctors talking with masks on

COVID-19 hospitalizations fell below 400 in Minnesota for the first time since March, state health officials reported Friday.

About 396 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) data reports. Of those, 116 are in an intensive care unit.

Hospitalizations peaked at 699 in early 2021, but have fallen following the first vaccine injection of 2.8 million Minnesotans, or 63% of state residents ages 16 and older. COVID-19 disproportionately killed older people. About 90% of Minnesotan’s COVID-19 deaths were seniors ages 65 and older.

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Minnesota to End Statewide Mask Mandate Friday

Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday announced the end of Minnesota’s statewide mask requirement starting Friday, aligning Minnesota with new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on face coverings.

“So, those peacetime emergencies are done and the business mitigations are coming to an end. I want to be clear it’s not the end of the pandemic, but it is the end of the pandemic for a  lot of vaccinated folks,” he told reporters.

Minnesotans who aren’t fully vaccinated are strongly recommended to wear face coverings indoors.

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Bill Aims to Ban Minnesota Vaccine Passports

Senator Michelle Benson

As Minnesota returns to a semblance of normalcy with an increasing number of injected COVID-19 vaccines, one Republican aims to ban “vaccine passports.”

 SF 1589 aims to ban forced COVID-19 vaccinations, forced digital contact tracing, and required proof of COVID-19 vaccination before entering a government business.

“Your personal health information should not be made public. I stand against the special interests that want your private health information,” Senate Health Committee Chair Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, posted on Facebook.

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National Mental Health Crisis Emerges Among Youth During Pandemic Lockdowns: Reports

Children and young adults are experiencing increased mental health issues, and suicide also is on the rise within the age group at least in part because of ongoing state shutdowns, according to several reports.

Within months of governors and local authorities shuttering schools, children were increasingly brought to emergency room doctors and specialists, according to a by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Commentary: Lowering the Cost of Prescription Medicines for Seniors Is Not Impossible

Earlier this year James Payne, a 73-year-old retired attorney in Utah, was so fed up with the high cost of a blood thinner medication he takes, he researched prices in Canada, where he found it was cheaper.

“Under Medicare, I am now paying $225 for a three-month supply,” Payne explained. “That’s $25 more than I was paying last year. Under my employer’s insurance I was only paying $20.” Payne says he is not sure why the costs are so much higher and continue to climb under Medicare, but he thinks there must be ways to make life-saving medications more affordable.

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Breast Cancer Drug Shows Promise, Boosts Survival Rates by 30 Percent

  A new form of drug drastically improves survival rates of pre-menopausal women with the most common type of breast cancer, researchers said on Saturday, citing the results of an international clinical trial. The findings, presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, showed…

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Antisemitic Doctor Who Said She’d Give Jews the Wrong Medication No Longer Employed at Ohio Hospital

by Joshua Gill   An Ohio hospital confirmed Monday that it no longer employs a doctor who made anti-Semitic comments and promised to give Jewish patients the wrong medication. The Cleveland Clinic said in its statement that it became aware of the social media posts by Lara Kollab, 27, who…

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Dr. Carol M. Swain Commentary: Congress’s Role in Creating America’s Healthcare Crisis

by Dr. Carol M. Swain   In 2017, President-elect Donald Trump sent pharmaceutical stocks into a nosedive by speaking an important truth. Drug companies, he said, are “getting away with murder” with their pricing of lifesaving drugs. True to his word, the president, since his election, has pushed for needed reforms  aimed at…

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Dr. Carol M. Swan Commentary: Congress’s Role in Creating America’s Healthcare Crisis

by Dr. Carol M. Swain   In 2017, President-elect Donald Trump sent pharmaceutical stocks into a nosedive by speaking an important truth. Drug companies, he said, are “getting away with murder” with their pricing of lifesaving drugs. True to his word, the president, since his election, has pushed for needed reforms  aimed at…

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State Medical Board Has A Simple Solution To Help Amid Physician Mental Health Crisis

by Evie Fordham   The Washington State Medical Commission (WMC) is taking a step to combat the high suicide rate among physicians by making physician licensing questions more friendly to doctors who have sought psychiatric help. Updates to Washington state’s licensure questions will focus on an individual’s current impairment rather than…

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Bill Gates Backs $30 Million Push for Early Alzheimer’s Diagnostics

Bill Gates

Reuters   Billionaire Bill Gates and Estée Lauder Cos chairman emeritus Leonard Lauder on Tuesday said they will award $30 million over three years to encourage development of new tests for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease. For Microsoft co-founder Gates, launch of the Diagnostics Accelerator program follows an announcement in November of a…

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Promise Kept: President Trump’s Landmark ‘Right to Try’ Legislation Curbs Government’s Monopoly on Medicine for Terminally Ill Patients

Trump right to try

In a signing ceremony on Wednesday, President Trump fulfilled another campaign promise by signing legislation nicknamed “Right to Try” that will expand seriously ill patients’ access to experimental treatments that could extent or even save their lives. Mr. Trump called the measure a “fundamental freedom” for people with terminal conditions to…

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Trump Is Following Through On His Pledge To Lower Drug Prices, Here’s The Plan

by Steve Birr   The Trump administration released its blueprint for lowering skyrocketing prescription drug prices Friday, a strategy that has already saved patients nearly $9 billion. President Donald Trump, along with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, outlined their four-pronged approach to making medications more affordable during an afternoon press…

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President Trump Faces Institutional Obstacles to Overcome U.S. Drug Pricing Fiasco

President Trump is scheduled to deliver his first speech Friday to introduce an overarching plan to confront high drug prices. As a candidate, where he railed against the pharmaceutical industry and accused it of “getting away with murder.” The populist rhetoric appears to be giving way to a more nuanced strategy focused…

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