Welcome to Insider Healthcare. I’m Andrew Dunn rounding up this week’s healthcare news:
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Apple’s latest stumble in healthcare
Apple is scaling back its plans for HealthHabit, an app that Apple employees could use to track fitness goals and talk to clinicians and coaches, Insider’s Blake Dodge reports.
More than 50 Apple workers spent significant time on the app, and there could be layoffs in their future. HealthHabit could be shut down, or it could continue in a scaled-down manner.
Setbacks and disappointments have frequently befallen tech giants’ early efforts in healthcare. The $3.8 trillion industry certainly has the size to be appetizing to companies like Google, Amazon, and Apple, but they often face challenges in showing health projects can be revenue-makers and win the backing of corporate leaders, as Blake and Hugh Langley wrote about earlier this year.
Blake and Hugh also had the scoop on Google Health’s future as unit head David Feinberg departs. Google is dismantling the division, and moving Google Health’s projects and teams to different parts of the company.
As for Apple, HealthHabit could have been another consumer product at the end of the day, Blake reported.
Read the scoop>>
Apple is scaling back a key health project that grew out of its care clinics, and some workers could lose their jobs
You get a booster, and you get a booster …
US health officials dramatically changed their messaging on booster shots this week, announcing a plan to offer all Americans an extra COVID-19 shot eight months after their initial vaccination.
The announcement comes as as a bit of surprise, not just because top administration leaders were saying just a few days ago that most people didn’t need boosters at this time.
The plan also comes ahead of any recommendations on when, or if, to boost from the independent advisory groups that guide the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Those advisory boards serve as an independent check in the review process for new vaccines. And at least one expert sitting on the FDA’s panel, Dr. Paul Offit, has repeatedly expressed skepticism for the idea that booster shots are needed now.
Offit isn’t alone — Insider spoke with three COVID-19 experts following the government’s booster announcement. They said there isn’t yet clear evidence that extra shots are needed, and that the priority should be reaching more unvaccinated folks.
Regardless, a smattering of top US health officials, including the heads of the FDA and CDC, said Wednesday they are planning to start offering booster shots starting September 20 to people in the US.
They’re focused on signs that protection from the vaccines may wane over time, and that boosters could also help protect people against the Delta variant.
If you’re wondering just how well the shots are working now against Delta, Aylin Woodward, Insider’s senior science reporter, created a chart breaking down how each COVID-19 vaccine fares against the Delta variant.
Read more about the booster plan>>
The Biden administration will start rolling out COVID-19 vaccine boosters in September, offering most people another shot 8 months after vaccination
Healthcare’s future leaders
If you missed it, we released our fifth annual list of 30 people who are 40 years old or younger and changing the healthcare industry.
From turning video games into therapeutics (Akili Interactive CEO Eddie Martucci, 39) to shaping Google’s future healthcare ambitions (Vivian Neilley, 27, head of Alphabet’s standards program), to advancing the next wave of gene-editing tools (Scribe Therapeutics CEO Benjamin Oakes, 32), this year’s crop reflects just how sprawling the future of healthcare could be.
Get the full list>>
Meet the 30 young leaders forging a new future for the healthcare industry in 2021
More stories we worked on this week: