COVID-19 Federal Responses: Wednesday, December 30, 2020

COVID-19 Federal Responses: Wednesday, December 30, 2020
  • New guidance provides a three-month extension for recipients for certain federal COVID-19 relief funds to audit their funding.


  • After passing a $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus bill before Christmas, Congress is now considering legislation to increase the one-time payment to individual taxpayers in that bill from $600 ($1,200 for families) to $2,000 ($4,000 for families). Before signing the bill into law, President Trump criticized the $600 as not enough and called for $2,000 instead. The House passed a standalone bill that would increase that payment to $2,000. The bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate but there is growing momentum in that Chamber for increasing the payment to $2,000.

White House and Federal Agencies

  • New guidance provides a three-month extension for recipients for certain federal COVID-19 relief funds to audit their funding.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded over $107 million to support new, non-traditional approaches and reimagined uses of existing tools to address gaps in COVID-19 testing and surveillance. A part of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative, the awards from the RADx Radical (RADx-rad) program will support 49 research projects and grant supplements at 43 institutions across the United States. It will focus on non-traditional viral screening approaches, such as biological or physiological markers, new analytical platforms with novel chemistries or engineering, rapid detection strategies, point-of-care devices, and home-based testing technologies.
  • President-elect Joe Biden plans to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase COVID-19 vaccine production.
  • The Department of Defense (DOD) launched its COVID-19 vaccine availability page to let DOD members know where and when they may find access to a vaccine. The general population will find answers to vaccine availability on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) site.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Updates

  • CDC updated FAQS about COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Because COVID-19 is a new disease with new vaccines, you may have questions about what happens before, during, and after your appointment to get vaccinated. These tips will help you know what to expect when you get vaccinated, what information your provider will give you, and resources you can use to monitor your health after you are vaccinated.
  • The CDC is clarifying that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines may be administered to people with underlying medical conditions provided they have not had a severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine.
  • The CDC is now publishing the allocations of vaccine doses made available for states and jurisdictions – from which they can order. Weekly allocations are provided to states on Tuesdays; after doses are ordered by states, shipments begin the following Monday. The entire order may not arrive in one shipment or on one day, but over the course of the week; delivery sites are notified by the private shipping partners.
  • CDC updated:

Economy, Vaccine, Testing and Treatment

  • The United Kingdom (U.K.) approved AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine.
  • A new, potentially more contagious strain of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is confirmed to exist in the U.S. after being detected in other countries earlier this month.
    • According to the CDC, at this time, there is no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness or increased risk of death. CDC, in collaboration with other public health agencies, is monitoring the situation closely. CDC will communicate new information as it becomes available.
  • The federal government ordered an additional 100 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted an updated letter of authorization, health care provider fact sheet and frequently asked questions regarding the number of Pfizer-BioNTech doses in a vial. These updates are consistent with previous FDA advice that it would be acceptable to use every full dose obtainable (the sixth, or possibly even a seventh) from each vial, pending resolution of the issue. However, since the vaccine does not contain preservative, it is critical to note that any further remaining product that does not constitute a full dose should not be pooled from multiple vials to create one.
  • The NIH is enrolling participants in a study of allergic reactions to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
  • As of December 23, slightly more than 1 million Americans have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Novavax began enrolling adult volunteers in its Phase 3 trial for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
  • FDA has posted translations of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine fact sheet for recipients and caregivers in languages including: Arabic, Burmese, Cherokee, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Chuukese, German, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Hmong, Korean, Mam, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Somali, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Yiddish.
  • Pregnant women who are infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, during the third trimester are unlikely to pass the infection to their newborns, suggests a study funded by the NIH.
  • FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn explains in a new video how all vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines, must adhere to specific FDA guidelines for safety, including ongoing surveillance.