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September 1, 2021

Around the nation: Biden administration launches new federal office for climate change and health equity

Daily Briefing

    The Biden administration on Monday opened a new federal office for climate change and health equity, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia, New Jersey, and New York.

    • District of Columbia: The Biden administration on Monday launched the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity. According to the New York Times, the office, which will fall under HHS, aims to address the harmful health effects of climate change and its disproportionate effect on poor communities. "It's not just about the climate, it's not just about our environment," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said. "It's about our health." President Joe Biden has requested $3 million to fund the office next year, which will need to be approved by Congress, the Times reports. John Balbus, the senior adviser on climate change for the director of NIH, will serve as the office's interim director. (Friedman, New York Times, 8/30; AP/Modern Healthcare, 8/30)
    • New Jersey: Johnson & Johnson (J&J) on Tuesday said its HIV vaccine, which uses the same basic technology as its Covid-19 vaccine, did not significantly prevent infection based on study data of 2,600 women in southern Africa. According to STAT News, the goal of the study, which launched in 2017 with assistance from NIH and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was to reduce the risk of infection by half. However, Paul Stoffels, J&J's chief scientific officer, said that the vaccine's efficacy was 25.2%, a difference that was not statistically significant. A second study of the vaccine, which is testing a different regimen in transgender people and men who have sex with men in Europe and the Americas, will continue, STAT News reports. (Herper, STAT News, 8/31)
    • New York: Teladoc Health announced it will provide free, 24/7 non-emergency telehealth services to residents, first responders, and others in Mississippi and Louisiana who have been affected by Hurricane Ida, a Category 4 storm that hit the Louisiana coast on Sunday. Bimal Shah, Teladoc's CMO, said, "As communities seek to navigate the impact of this hurricane along with an active pandemic, we want to make sure that those faced with devastation and displacement from Ida are keeping their health front and center and know how to get care." According to HealthLeaders Media, the company has previously offered similar services to communities affected by forest fires or Tropical Storm Henri. (Commins, HealthLeaders Media, 8/30)

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