Fallout continues over Biden's 'pandemic is over' comments
At a routine press briefing today, two White House officials fielded questions about President Joe Biden's recent off-the-cuff comment during a news program that the pandemic is over, while acknowledging that COVID is still a problem.
When a reporter asked if Biden would carry the "pandemic is over" message to the world stage in his address tomorrow at the United Nations General Assembly, Jake Sullivan, Biden's National Security Advisor, said Biden will tell world leaders that the core goal is to be better prepared for the next pandemic, such as finalizing a funding facility at the World Bank, improving vaccine manufacturing capability across a wider range of regions, and needing to learn lessons from COVID-19 to avoid repeating mistakes.
Journalists also asked Biden's press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, about the president's comments and a letter from Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, the ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee that juxtaposes the comments with the need to extend the health emergency and add more funding. She said Biden was clear in the interview that COVID remains a problem.
"What he believes is we can acknowledge the massive amount of progress that we have made," she said. "Now we are in a place where it is much more manageable."
Jean-Pierre also pressed Congress to approve funding to better prepare the nation to respond for future threats from COVID and other epidemics.
Sep 20 White House press briefing
Sep 19 Burr letter obtained by CNN
Sep 19 CIDRAP News story
Helmet-style oxygenation didn't lower death rate in severe COVID-19
Noninvasive ventilation delivered through an oxygen helmet didn't significantly lower 28-day death rates among adult COVID-19 pneumonia patients with respiratory failure beyond that of masks, high-flow nasal cannulas, or other standard methods, but interpretation of the results was limited by an imprecise effect estimate, finds a randomized, controlled trial in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
The research, published today in JAMA, involved 187 men and 133 women with respiratory failure due to COVID-19 pneumonia randomly assigned to receive supplemental oxygen through either a helmet or a mask, high-flow nasal cannula, or other standard methods at eight sites from Feb 8 to Nov 16, 2021. Some patients had both treatments for a time because of medical necessity. Median patient age was 58 years.
The researchers noted that helmet ventilation has been used in COVID-19 patients under the premise that it is better able to deliver prolonged oxygen because of fewer air leaks, improved fit, and less risk of skin pressure injury, eye irritation, and aerosol generation, although supporting data in COVID-19 patients are lacking.
At 28 days, 27.0% of 159 patients assigned to the helmet group died, compared with 26.1% of the 161 standard-care patients, a statistically nonsignificant difference. A total of 47.2% of the helmet group needed endotracheal intubation, compared with 50.3% in the standard-care group (relative risk, 0.94; 95% confidence interval, 0.75 to 1.17).
Barotrauma, or tissue damage related to pressure differences inside and outside the body, occurred in 18.9% of the helmet group and 15.5% of the standard-care group. A total of 3.1% of the helmet group and 6.2% of standard-care patients experienced skin-pressure injury. One and two serious adverse events occurred in the standard-care and helmet groups, respectively.
Helmet ventilation has been used for 20 years in some countries, the authors said, and in March 2020 the US Food and Drug Administration authorized it for COVID-19 patients with respiratory failure.
Although helmets didn't appear to confer a survival advantage, because of limitations such as a small sample size and unblinded treatment allocation, the researchers said that they can't exclude potential clinical benefit or harm.
Sep 20 JAMA study