Biden makes picks for key public health roles as pandemic rages: sources
President-elect Joe Biden made his selections for two key public health positions, sources said, as he prepares to take office in January while the coronavirus pandemic rages to new levels across the United States.
Biden makes picks for key public health roles as pandemic rages: sources
WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) – President-elect Joe Biden has made his selections for two key public health positions, sources said on Sunday, as he prepares to take office next month as the coronavirus pandemic rages to new levels across the United States.
Biden plans to nominate California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as secretary of health and human services, two sources said, placing the Latino former congressman in a critical role battling the pandemic.
The former vice president is also expected to nominate Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, to run the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person familiar with the decision said.
The choice of Becerra, 62, who also had been considered a candidate for U.S. attorney general, came as Biden faced more pressure to add diversity to his Cabinet appointments, including complaints from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus about the lack of Latinos.
Becerra will lead the health agency as it struggles to handle a resurgence of the coronavirus, including record infections and a daily death toll that has exceeded 2,000 in recent days, and prepares a mammoth effort to vaccinate Americans against the virus.
Neither Becerra nor Walensky could be reached for immediate comment. A spokesman for Biden’s transition declined to comment.
More than 281,000 Americans have died from the COVID-19 disease, according to a Reuters tally.
The announcement of the choice of Becerra could come as soon as Monday, said one of the sources familiar with the decision. Biden named some top members of his health team last week, and is expected to roll out the full team this week.
“Biden is living up to his commitment to make the Cabinet a reflection of diversity,” said Robert Garcia, mayor of Long Beach, California, and a longtime ally of Becerra and Biden.
Garcia said Becerra “has a strong record on healthcare but I think it goes beyond that. The president-elect selected someone with the highest levels of integrity and intellect.”
In Congress, Becerra played a key role in passing the Affordable Care Act – former President Barack Obama’s key domestic policy achievement. In his current role, Becerra leads the coalition of 20 states defending the program better known as Obamacare, including before the Supreme Court last month.
FILE PHOTO: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra speaks about President Trump’s proposal to weaken national greenhouse gas emission and fuel efficiency regulations, at a media conference in Los Angeles, California, U.S. August 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo/File Photo
Biden has asked Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, to stay on as chief medical adviser.
The Democratic president-elect also has named Jeff Zients, an economic adviser touted for his managerial skills, as a coronavirus “czar” to oversee an unprecedented operation to distribute hundreds of millions of doses of a new vaccine, coordinating efforts across multiple federal agencies.
Biden picked Vivek Murthy, a physician and former surgeon general who has gained prominence in recent months as co-chairman of Biden’s advisory board dealing with the pandemic, to return for a second go-around as surgeon general.
Becerra served as a Democratic U.S. representative from 1993 to 2017 before moving back to his home state to become attorney general. In that post, he succeeded Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Scott Malone, Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney
Although these trends preclude the COVID-19 pandemic, COVID-19’s imprint promises to further exacerbate the suffering. Historical declines in the health and well-being of U.S. middle-aged adults raises two important questions: To what extent is this confined to the U.S., and will COVID-19 impact future trends?
My colleagues and I recently published a cross-national study, which is currently in press, that provides insights into how U.S. middle-aged adults are currently faring in relation to their counterparts in other nations, and what future generations can expect in the post-COVID-19 world. Our study examined cohort differences in the health, well-being and memory of U.S. middle-aged adults and whether they differed from middle-aged adults in Australia, Germany, South Korea and Mexico.
US is an outlier among rich nations
We compared people who were born in the 1930s through the 1960s in terms of their health and well-being – such as depressive symptoms and life satisfaction – and memory in midlife.
Differences between nations were stark. For the U.S., we found a general pattern of decline. Americans born in the 1950s and 1960s experienced overall declines in well-being and memory in middle age compared to those born in the 1930s and 1940s. A similar pattern was found for Australian middle-aged adults.
In contrast, each successive cohort in Germany, South Korea and Mexico reported improvements in well-being and memory. Improvements were observed in health for each nation across cohorts, but were slowed for Americans born in the 1950s and 1960s, suggesting they improved less rapidly than their counterparts in the countries examined.
Our study finds that middle-aged Americans are experiencing overall declines in key outcomes, whereas other nations are showing general improvements. Our cross-national approach points to policies that could could help alleviate the long-term effects arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Will COVID-19 exacerbate troubling trends?
Initial research on the short-term effects of COVID-19 is telling.
At the start of the pandemic the focus was rightly on the safety of older adults. Older adults were most vulnerable to the risks posed by COVID-19, which included mortality, social isolation and loneliness. Indeed, older adults were at higher risk, but an overlooked component has been how the mental health risks and long-haul effects will likely differ across age groups.
The very nature and expectations surrounding midlife are shifting. U.S. middle-aged adults are confronting more parenting pressures than ever before, in the form of engagement in extracurricular activities and pressures for their children to succeed in school. Record numbers of young adults are moving back home with their middle-aged parents due to student loan debt and a historically challenging labor and housing market.
A direct effect of gains in life expectancy is that middle-aged adults are needing to take on more caregiving-related duties for their aging parents and other relatives, while continuing with full-time work and taking care of school-aged children. This is complicated by the fact that there is no federally mandated program for paid family leave that could cover instances of caregiving, or the birth or adoption of a child. A recent AARP report estimated that in 2020, there were 53 million caregivers whose unpaid labor was valued at US$470 billion.
Our cross-national approach provides ample opportunities to explore ways to reverse the U.S. disadvantage and promote resilience for middle-aged adults.
The nations we studied vastly differ in their family and work policies. Paid parental leave and subsidized child care help relieve the stress and financial strain of parenting in countries such as Germany, Denmark and Sweden. Research documents how well-being is higher in both parents and nonparents in nations with more generous family leave policies.
Countries with ample paid sick and vacation days ensure that employees can take time off to care for an ailing family member. Stronger safety nets protect laid-off employees by ensuring that they have the resources available to stay on their feet.
During the pandemic, the U.S. government passed policy measures to aid people and businesses. The U.S. approved measures to stimulate the economy through stimulus checks, payroll protection for small businesses, expansion of unemployment benefits and health care enrollment, child tax credits, and individuals’ ability to claim forbearance for various forms of debt and housing payments. Some of these measures have been beneficial, with recent findings showing that material hardship declined and well-being improved during periods when the stimulus checks were distributed.
I believe these programs are a good start, but they need to be expanded if there is any hope of reversing these troubling trends and promoting resilience in middle-aged Americans. A recent report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation concluded that paid family leave has a wide range of benefits, including, but not limited to, addressing health, racial and gender inequities; helping women stay in the workforce; and assisting businesses in recruiting skilled workers. Research from Germany and the United Kingdom shows how expansions in family leave policies have lasting effects on well-being, particularly for women.
Middle-aged adults form the backbone of society. They constitute large segments of the workforce while having to simultaneously bridge younger and older generations through caregiving-related duties. Ensuring their success, productivity, health and well-being through these various programs promises to have cascading effects on their families and society as a whole.
Frank J. Infurna receives funding from the National Institute on Aging and previously from the John Templeton Foundation. The content is solely his responsibility and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.
With Euro 2020 now under way after a year of pandemic delay, football fans will be hoping for great performances from Europe’s finest players. Some of us will watch the tournament unfold on our Hisense televisions, and many will choose to order in some half time refreshments, maybe via the Just Eat delivery service, possibly sent using a Vivo mobile phone.
Sustained by cans of Heineken, as goals are scored, supporters will upload celebration clips on to TikTok. And after the final, what better way to recharge than by arranging a holiday on Booking.com, perhaps flying on Qatar Airways.
For while fans will have their eyes firmly fixed on the efforts of players worth billions of pounds on the field, another big money game will be taking place off it. The Euros is one of the world’s biggest sport events, and a bonanza for corporate sponsors and partners (just a few of which are mentioned above).
In return for being exposed to the eyes of the world, Euros sponsors pay huge amounts of money. Just how much is difficult to say, as fees are commercially sensitive data. But in one case – that of Alipay (part of the Alibaba empire) – it is believed the Chinese company paid £176 million for an eight year deal.
UEFA has sold these deals in three ways: National Team Football Official Sponsors, Euro 2020 Official Sponsors, and Euro 2020 Official Licensees. And the origins of the companies and brands sponsoring this year’s event are a clear indication of how the beautiful game is valued by the corporate world.
Alongside UEFA partners such as FedEx and Konami, each of the national teams bring their own roster of sponsors, which makes for quite a cluttered selection of brands competing for attention. There’s England’s £50 million, five-year contract with BT, for example, while the Germans will bring Lufthansa to the tournament, Carlsberg will promote its association with Denmark and South Korea’s Hyundai will be represented by the Czech Republic.
The list goes on (and on). To capture the complex network of sponsors at Euro 2020 we created a network graphic of some of the most prominent and significant deals on show over the coming weeks. For reasons of clarity, we wern’t able to include every sponsor, but the range on display is revealing.
What becomes immediately clear is that although the UEFA European Championship is a continental tournament, its commercial reach is truly global. A significant number of sponsors are either not European or else have divisions that operate way beyond the borders of Europe.
At the same time, the sponsorship portfolio shows us that football is at the heart of the entertainment, lifestyle and digital economies. Gone are the days of motor-oil and office photocopier sponsorships. Instead we see a profusion of drinks brands, confectionery products and airlines.
In addition, the sponsorship of teams appears to go hand-in-hand with the promotion of national identity and national industry. “Brand Germany” for instance, is strongly represented by some of the country’s most important corporations, including Adidas and Volkswagen.
Equally, “Brand China” is now a major industrial and political power, and home to five of UEFA’s biggest tournament sponsors (Alipay, Antchain, Hisense, TikTok and Vivo).
Corporate America continues to endure too, represented by the likes of Coca Cola and IMG. The US has always been the home of contemporary sport sponsorship, and the country’s businesses continue to derive significant commercial value from it.
In fact, the underdogs in this big-money corporate competition appear to be the Europeans themselves. For an event being staged in countries including England, Italy, Spain and Romania, UEFA draws very few of its sponsors from the continent. Instead, it is clear that organisations from China and the US have both the financial muscle and the tactical brains to successfully dominate the tournament.
Whether the footballing squad from France, Portugal or Switzerland lifts the trophy in July, there is no doubt that the UEFA tournament will be an on field triumph for Europe.
But the forces of globalisation, digitalisation and politico-economic change, reflected in the Euros’ portfolio of sponsors, will keep on playing long after the final whistle blows. And European industry could pay the penalty with a swift exit from the global industrial competition.
Simon Chadwick works with UEFA on its Certificate in Football Management programme.
Paul Widdop ne travaille pas, ne conseille pas, ne possède pas de parts, ne reçoit pas de fonds d'une organisation qui pourrait tirer profit de cet article, et n'a déclaré aucune autre affiliation que son organisme de recherche.
EU adds another rare blood condition as side effect of AstraZeneca shot
Europe’s drug regulator on June 11 identified another rare blood condition as a potential side effect of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine and said it was looking into cases of heart inflammation after inoculation with all coronavirus shots.
Europe’s drug regulator on Friday identified another rare blood condition as a potential side effect of AstraZeneca’s (AZN.L) COVID-19 vaccine and said it was looking into cases of heart inflammation after inoculation with all coronavirus shots.
The European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) safety committee said that capillary leak syndrome must be added as a new side effect to labelling on AstraZeneca’s vaccine, known as Vaxzevria.
People who had previously sustained the condition, where fluids leak from the smallest blood vessels causing swelling and a drop in blood pressure, should not receive the shot, the EMA added.
The regulator first began looking into these cases in April and the recommendation adds to AstraZeneca’s woes after its vaccine was associated with very rare and potentially lethal cases of blood clotting that come with a low platelet count.
Last month, the EMA had advised against using the second AstraZeneca shot for people with that clotting condition, known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).
The committee reviewed six validated cases of capillary leak syndrome in people, mostly women, who had received Vaxzevria, including one death. Three had had a history of the condition.
A vial of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is seen at a vaccination centre in Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, Britain, February 18, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo
AstraZeneca declined to immediately comment.
More than 78 million Vaxzevria doses have been administered in the European Union, Liechtenstein, Iceland & Norway and Britain.
Britain’s regulator, the MHRA said on Thursday it had received 8 reports of capillary leak syndrome in the context of more than 40 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine given, and currently does not see a causal link.
Separately, the EMA said it was continuing its probe into cases of heart inflammation known as myocarditis and pericarditis, primarily following inoculation with the Pfizer/BioNTech (PFE.N), (22UAy.DE) and Moderna mRNA shots, but also after the J&J (JNJ.N) and AstraZeneca vaccines.
U.S. health officials said on Thursday they had registered a higher-than-expected number of heart inflammation cases in young men who received a second dose of the mRNA shots, though a causal relationship could not be established. read more
Israel’s Health Ministry said this month it had found a likely link to the condition in young men who received the Pfizer/BioNTech shot. read more
Both Pfizer and Moderna have acknowldged the observations but said a causal association with their vaccines has not been established.
BioNTech said adverse events, including myocarditis and pericarditis, are being regularly and thoroughly reviewed by the companies and regulatory authorities.
“More than 300 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine have been administered globally and the benefit risk profile of our vaccine remains positive.”
The United States and Israel have been months ahead of the EU in vaccinating men below 30, who are particularly prone to heart inflammation, giving them potentially more cases to analyse.