Welcome to the WBD News Flash, your weekly highlight of HR benefits and healthcare news. Weekly, we will provide you with the top trending industry news stories in healthcare, human resources, legislation, benefits technology and administration, and more. Make the WBD News Flash your go to reference for current events!

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Authorized; Roll-Out Begins

Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine is slated to begin this Monday, March 1st, following emergency use authorization from the FDA on Saturday. The vaccine differs from the Moderna and Pfizer formulations because it uses a viral vector method rather than the mRNA technology found in the double-dose vaccines. This could ease transport and storage, as the vaccine only requires normal refrigeration. Johnson & Johnson is ramping up production, but supplies are expected to remain scarce until April.

Trials running from October 2020 to January, including the latest peak of the virus outbreak, showed 100% effectiveness at preventing hospitalizations and deaths, and 85% effectiveness at preventing severe illness, 28 days after the vaccination date.

Group Health Plans Must Cover Covid-19 Diagnostic Testing

Modern Healthcare reports that the Biden administration has issued guidance ruling private group health plans cannot deny coverage or impose cost-sharing for Covid-19 diagnostic testing, even if the patient is asymptomatic, or does not have a known exposure to the virus. The guidance is meant to give people easier access to diagnostic testing, allowing them to get testing for peace of mind or before visiting family. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have posted the updated guidance along with tools for federal reimbursement at their website.

“Americans changed their behavior” – NPR Reports on Virus Suppression

The “surge upon surge” that many experts, including Dr. Fauci, feared did not come after the holidays season. So what slowed down the winter surge of coronavirus across the United States? NPR talked to experts on health metrics and public health, who have found that key virus mitigation factors such as mask-wearing and avoiding travel were all heightened over the holiday period. And in some parts of the country, high infection rates may have contributed to immunity. However, public health researchers are warning that complacency due to less-gloomy infection numbers are already spurring an uptick in cases over the past week. Read the story here.

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