IHA Daily Briefing: Oct. 11

Monday, October 11, 2021
Merck Seeks EUA for COVID-19 Treatment Pill
State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
Wilhelmi Talks Telehealth with Key Civic Group
CMS Connecting Kids to Coverage Webinar
Briefly Noted

Merck Seeks EUA for COVID-19 Treatment Pill
Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics today announced that Merck has submitted an Emergency Use Authorization application to Food and Drug Administration for molnupiravir, an investigational oral antiviral medicine, for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults who are at risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization.

The submission is based on positive results from a Phase 3 clinical trial. At the interim analysis, molnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by approximately 50%; 7.3% of patients who received molnupiravir were either hospitalized or died through Day 29 following randomization (28/385), compared with 14.1% of placebo-treated patients (53/377). Through Day 29, no deaths were reported in patients who received molnupiravir, as compared to 8 deaths in patients who received placebo.

In anticipation of the potential for regulatory authorization or approval, Merck says it has been producing molnupiravir and expects to produce 10 million courses of treatment by the end of 2021.


State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
Because today is a state holiday, the Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) did not update its COVID-19 data. On Friday (Oct. 8), IDPH reported 2,744 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases, including 35 additional deaths. As of Thursday night, 1,653 individuals in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 412 patients were in the ICU and 209 patients were on ventilators. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests was 2.1%. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity was 2.6%.

Saturday’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures showed more than 44.2 million confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. (a daily increase of more than 106,000 cases; seven-day moving average of more than 92,000 cases), with 711,020 deaths (a daily increase of 2,196).

Today’s WHO Coronavirus Disease Dashboard showed more than 237.3 million COVID-19 cases globally (a daily increase of more than 236,000 cases), with more than 4.84 million deaths. The Region of the Americas (includes the U.S.) continues to lead the world with more than 91 million cases and more than 2.23 million deaths.


Wilhelmi Talks Telehealth with Key Civic Group
IHA President and CEO A.J. Wilhelmi last week was part of a special virtual program, “Broadband: Our Most Important Invisible Infrastructure,” held by a leading civic group, Know Your Chicago. The Oct. 6 program highlighted how high-speed internet access is revolutionizing two crucial areas that “affect us all and are among key determinants of community equity: telehealth and education.”

In his presentation, Wilhelmi focused on the substantial increase in telehealth utilization and the benefits of telehealth for patients over the past 18 months during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“An IHA survey conducted during the pandemic, provided compelling data, showing that over 70% of Illinois hospitals and health systems found that telehealth helped drive a reduction in the rates at which patients missed appointments,” said Wilhelmi. “This has been demonstrated to increase care plan adherence, improve chronic disease management and yield downstream cost savings. The marked reduction in missed appointments not only underscores the potential to improve care, but also shows us that social determinants of health can act as barriers to accessing in-person care…Telehealth can reduce barriers to access created by social determinants, such as lack of transportation or geographic isolation from healthcare professionals.”

Wilhelmi also spoke about groundbreaking telehealth legislation, House Bill 3308/Public Act 102-0104, that IHA and the Coalition to Protect Telehealth successfully pushed for in the Spring 2021 General Assembly session, “solidifying Illinois’ move into the 21st century by enhancing and codifying coverage and payment parity for state-regulated commercial insurance, while ensuring strong patient and provider protections.”

To view a recording of the program, click here. Wilhelmi’s presentation starts at the 9-minute mark and runs about 10 minutes.

Conceived by Chicagoan Mary Ward Wolkonsky in the late 1940s, Know Your Chicago was originally envisioned as an annual training course for women in positions of leadership in the city. Currently, lectures and tours are planned and executed by a board of fifty women, distinguished by their service in civic, cultural, and charitable endeavors, to promote civic awareness and participation with the hope that participants will turn this special combination of access and information into action as they become better informed citizens.


CMS Connecting Kids to Coverage Webinar
The Office of Minority Health at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will hold a webinar on “Connecting Kids to Coverage” this Wednesday (Oct. 13) from 1 to 2:30 p.m. CDT.

This webinar, which is being held during National Hispanic Heritage Month, will feature an analysis of recent data to raise awareness about the increase in uninsurance rates for Latinx children, outreach strategies to effectively target this population, and a new resource on InsureKidsNow.gov for organizations working with immigrant families. Register here.

The webinar will also address recent federal guidance to inform states and stakeholders that the 2019 Public Charge Final Rule was vacated and is no longer in effect, and that applying for or receiving Medicaid or CHIP benefits does not make someone a “public charge.” The Dept. of Homeland Security’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking requesting public feedback on the public charge ground of inadmissibility will also be covered.

A recent report from the Georgetown University’s Center on Children and Families found that the overall child uninsured rate increased between 2016 and 2019, and Latinx children were disproportionately affected. Latinx children’s uninsured rate reached 9.3% in 2019, compared to 4.4% for non-Latinx children.


Briefly Noted
In its latest COVID-19 antibody therapy allocations update (Cycle 04), the Illinois Dept. of Public Health says Cycle 02, 03 and 04 deliveries have been impacted due to the decreased availability of the Regeneron product for the last two weeks. IDPH has been informed that 95% of orders not received are due to this shortage. AmerisourceBergen has a plan to catch up on Cycle 02 and 03 by today (Oct. 11). IDPH says providers should consider using bamlanivimab/etesevimab IV in place of IV Regencov for infusions, but IV Regeneron formulations may also be used for subcutaneous dosing (see notice).