Health and Human Services Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs (HHSIEA)

Date: 10/03/2022

HSS COVID-19 Update


White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy met with health system and hospital leaders to discuss the importance of acting aggressively this fall to protect their patients, health care workers, and communities from COVID-19 and the flu. The discussion focused on steps hospitals and health systems can take to help ensure all Americans, including health care workers, get their updated COVID-19 vaccine this fall, and encourage people to get tested and seek treatment when they get sick—steps that will save lives, reduce burden on the health care system, minimize disruptions to daily life, and help the U.S. effectively manage COVID-19.


Evusheld: FDA added important information to the authorized Fact Sheets for Evusheld (tixagevimab co-packaged with cilgavimab) to inform health care providers and individuals receiving Evusheld of the increased risk for developing COVID-19 when exposed to variants of SARS-CoV-2 that are not neutralized by Evusheld. Detailed neutralization data can be found in the revised authorized Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers. Health care professionals should inform patients of this risk and advise patients who develop signs or symptoms of COVID-19 to test for SARS-CoV-2 infection and promptly seek medical attention, including starting treatment for COVID-19, as appropriate if they test positive.


Exploring a New Approach to Universal Vaccines Against COVID-19: NIH published a news story on a new approach to universal vaccines against COVID-19. Researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) are exploring a different idea for vaccines. Instead of focusing on the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, they are studying the virus’s nucleocapsid (N) protein, which rarely mutates. The N protein could be the key to creating a future universal vaccine to fight emerging variants. NIAID researchers found that N proteins produced by cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 neutralize multiple chemokines. Chemokines are substances produced in response to an infection or injury, and they attract white blood cells to the area. When N proteins bind to chemokines, this binding weakens the body’s immune response. Without white blood cells to kill virus-infected cells, the virus keeps multiplying and infecting more cells. Until now, most scientists thought that N proteins stayed inside a cell infected by SARS-CoV-2. But the NIAID researchers discovered that up to 100,000 copies of the N protein stud the surface of a single infected cell. In addition, N proteins on an infected cell can spread to uninfected neighboring cells so that they lose immune protection.