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Health Care — FDA sets tentative timeline on young kids’ vaccines

James Corden will be leaving his job as host of CBS’s “The Late Late Show” after nearly seven years.

Today in health care, we got a bit more clarity on the timeline for young kids’ vaccines. Mark your calendars for June.

Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan, Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Subscribe here.

FDA sets June dates for meeting on kids’ vaccine

The timeline for vaccines for young children is coming into focus.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday released tentative June dates for its advisory committee to meet to discuss authorizing COVID-19 vaccines for young children, offering a rough timeline for when authorization could come.

The agency said it is setting aside June 8, 21 and 22 for meetings of its advisory committee for vaccines for children under 5 and will provide more details once applications from Pfizer and Moderna are complete.

That timetable suggests that if everything goes according to plan, authorizations for the vaccine for children under 5 could come in June.

Some parents have been anxiously awaiting vaccines for young children, and the timeline has been repeatedly delayed.

Peter Marks, a top FDA vaccine official, also told The Washington Post on Friday that the agency would not delay authorization of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to wait for the other, responding in part to a political story that reported that it was under consideration.

“We are not going to delay things unnecessarily here,” Marks told the Post. “This whole concept of delay is not something we will be doing.”

Read more here.

Pelosi endorses strategy to tie Ukraine, COVID aid

COVID-19 aid in Congress is still stuck, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday endorsed an idea to get it moving by tying it to Ukraine aid.

That strategy is being considered by Senate Democratic leaders, who see the popular Ukraine assistance as a could-be sweetener for the more controversial health care funding, which Republicans have threatened to block amid the partisan fight over President Biden’s pandemic policies at the Southern border.

The immigration impasse has led some Democrats to warn against linking the Ukraine and coronavirus funding, for fear of delaying crucial aid to the embattled Ukrainians just as Russian forces have escalated their attacks in the Eastern Donbas region.

Pelosi on Friday emphasized that the negotiations are currently centered in the Senate, not the House. But she also made it clear that she’d prefer to have the two funding bills packaged together for reasons of expediency.

“I’m all for that,” the Speaker told reporters in the Capitol. “I think it’s very important. We have emergencies here. We need to have the COVID money, and time is of the essence because we need the Ukraine money. … So I would hope that we can do that.”

“This is called legislating,” she continued, “and we’ll have to come to terms on how we do that.”

Read more here.

FIRST HUMAN US CASE OF BIRD FLU STRAIN REPORTED

A man in Colorado has tested positive for the H5N1 bird flu virus, becoming the first person in the US to have a confirmed human case of bird flu stemming from the current outbreak that has impacted commercial and backyard birds.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the man who tested positive for bird flu had direct exposure to poultry, as he was involved in culling poultry presumed to have the virus. The only symptom he reported having was some fatigue for a few days before recovering.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) said in a statement that the man who tested positive was under 40, worked at a farm in Montrose County and was largely asymptomatic. The agency noted that there are currently no known cases of this H5 virus spreading among people.

The patient is currently in isolation and was treated with the influenza antiviral drug oseltamivir, said the CDC. Other people who also worked at the Colorado culling operation have so far tested negative, though they are being retested out of an abundance of caution.

Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist for the CDPHE, said, “We want to reassure Coloradans that the risk to them is low.”

Read more here.

New positive COVID test

White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, the latest official close to President Biden to come down with the virus.

Bedingfield said on Twitter that she is not considered a close contact of Biden, who is slated to attend Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.

Bedingfield last saw Biden on Wednesday during a socially distanced meeting. She was wearing an N-95 mask, she tweeted.

“Thanks to being fully vaccinated and boosted, I am only experiencing mild symptoms. In alignment with White House COVID-19 protocols, I will work from home and plan to return to work in person at the conclusion of a five-day isolation period and a negative test,” Bedingfield tweeted.

Bedingfield is just the latest White House official to test positive for the virus as cases across the country tick up.

Vice President Harris tested positive earlier this week, and second gentleman Doug Emhoff, press secretary Jen Psaki and principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre have all contracted the virus in recent weeks.

Read more here.

OVERRIDING EVIDENCE

The House select subcommittee investigating the US coronavirus response released new evidence on Friday detailing how Trump administration officials involved themselves in COVID-19 guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) related to faith-based communities.

The CDC had sent guidance for faith-based communities to the White House in May 2020.

in an email exchange shared by the subcommitteeadministration officials, including then-White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, discussed the proposal and offered edits.

Paul Ray, then the administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, wrote in part of the email exchange, “The new CDC draft includes a significant amount of new content, much of which seems to raise religious liberty concerns. In the attached, I have proposed several passages for deletion to address those concerns. … If these edits are acceptable to you all, we could tell CDC, as early in the morning as possible, that they are free to publish contingent on striking the offensive passages.”

“Paul — Thanks for adding our colleagues who have been central to this effort. Thanks, also, for holding firm against the newest round of mission creep,” Conway replied.

Read more here.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • States that legalized marijuana now researching mental health risks of high-potency cannabis (NBCnews)
  • Covid deaths no longer overwhelmingly among unvaccinated as toll on elderly grows (Washington Post)
  • Pfizer vaccine chief Kathrin Jansen, who led the Covid effort, to withdraw (Stat)

STATE BY STATE

  • Thanks to feds, Texas teachers, school employees won’t absorb higher health care premiums next year (Dallas Morning News)
  • Planned Parenthood temporarily halts abortion services in Alabama, cites staffing issues (Montgomery Advertiser)
  • LA County COVID-19 cases still high, with yet another variant growing (ABC 7)

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

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