COVID-19 continues to impact people and economies here in the U.S and worldwide. Just as there is a need to predict the weather to keep us safe, there is a need for forecasting tools for COVID-19 that can be used to improve awareness about the spread of infection, distribute vaccine and mobilize the appropriate healthcare responses. Did you know that such a forecasting tool exists and is being used by health experts here in the U.S. and around the globe?
The COVID-19 Forecast Hub (below) was founded in March 2020 by the University of Massachusetts – Amherst and since then, a dedicated team diligently aggregates COVID-19 forecasts from dozens of other experts and teams from around the globe. Every week, the teams submit their forecasts and the data is compiled and visual models are created. This past week, 50 models were submitted.
Using a single “ensemble” forecast of reported COVID-19 cases at the county, state, and national level and deaths at the state and national level, the current forecasting goes out four weeks into the future. Refer to this forecast model for U.S. hospitalizations as of July 20, 2021. Note the areas in the blue to the right.
Johnson + Johnson – A recent study from researchers at New York University found that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may be less effective in battling COVID-19 variants than vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. “The vaccines that have two shots (Moderna and Pfizer) raised better antibodies than J&J. All three vaccines are good. J&J might be even better if a second shot were added,” stated Nathaniel Landau, the lead researcher and a virologist at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine. Their research is currently in peer review and has been published in BioRxiv.
According to the CDC, as of 7/21/2021, 390 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered. 338 million doses of vaccine have been administered. This accounts for the following percentages of fully vaccinated people in the U.S.:
Total population = 48.7%
Those over 12 years = 57.0%
Those over 18 years = 59.6%
Those over 65 years = 79.5%
Scruples and Drams
News and Notes from Around Pharmacy – Billing for COVID-19 Testing
With the recent uptick in confirmed cases of COVID-19 related to the Delta variant, now is a good time to either review or consider adding testing to your suite of clinical services. CMS allows billing for testing and the reimbursement varies with the test type administered as well as the region where the test was administered. Below is a link that you can use to review the CMS billing guidance as well the reimbursement rates for the regions that you serve.
In this week’s blog, Rebecca Lichucki, CPhT, Marketouch’s Clinical Director, provides her perspective on the recent JAPhA article based on a recent metadata study conducted by researchers from the University of Mississippi. Their research is a retrospective analysis of the impact of Medication Synchronization programs on medication adherence. If you are new to MedSync, considering implementing MedSync or looking to improve your existing MedSync offering, it is worth the read.