The US has confirmed 10 cases of SARS-CoV-2 caused by the Omicron variant of concern (VOC). The first case was confirmed by California state health and US CDC officials on the afternoon of December 1. Health authorities say Omicron carries a unique set of mutations that might give the virus an advantage in driving new surges of infections compared with the fast-spreading Delta variant, which currently makes up virtually all U.S. cases. Omicron, which may spread even faster, appears to have evolved independently from the Delta variant, descending from another strain that appeared in mid-2020.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, about 2,000 lung transplants occurred each year in the US, primarily for patients with lung diseases such as emphysema, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary fibrosis. But the number of lung transplants for COVID-19 patients is rising quickly, increasing tenfold in the first 2 years of the pandemic, while the overall number of lung transplants is down compared with previous years, according to data from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Currently, almost 1 in 10 lung transplants are performed in COVID-19 patients, and nearly 240 people nationwide have received lung transplants due to COVID-19 since August 2020. The rising demand for COVID-related lung transplants is forcing medical professionals to confront the complicated ethical issue of who should get the few available transplants.
On November 24, 2021, the CDC published a Health Advisory Network (HAN) Alert (here) which identified the predominance of Influenza A (H3N2) virus with 89% of infections among people ages 5 through 24. This strain of influenza is concerning due to current outbreaks among college age adults and past seasonal outcomes of increased severity, hospitalizations, and deaths when H3N2 predominated in 2017-2018. Per the CDC, Influenza A viruses evolve more rapidly to escape human immunity. The Influenza A component of this season’s vaccines was recently updated in response to the evolution of a new group of viruses called 2A that did not circulate widely last year and were not included in last season’s component. Most Influenza A viruses that have been analyzed in the U.S. so far are genetically closely related to the current vaccine’s Influenza A component.
CSSE is reporting 48,833,401 positive cases in the U.S. and 785,916 deaths.
Higher taxes may not be the only outcome from the trillion dollar government spending increases. Congressional leaders have neglected to waive Statutory PAYGO requirements for healthcare providers as part of the federal funding bill. If left unchanged, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that a Statutory PAYGO sequester will cause a 4% reduction in Medicare spending – or cuts of approximately $36 billion to all Medicare providers, including physicians and hospitals. The hospital cuts are estimated at $9.4 billion. The impact is even greater on physicians who face a nearly 10% reduction in Medicare payments as the scheduled 3.75% cut to the Physician Fee Schedule (PFS), the 2% cut for Medicare sequestration, and the 4% PAYGO reduction all create the perfect storm for reducing physician pay effective January 1 , 2022.