WisPolitics, WisBusiness Healthcare Report for Sept. 8

WisPolitics, WisBusiness Healthcare Report for Sept. 8

— The UW School of Medicine and Public Health is looking to enroll more participants in a study exploring the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in people with inflammatory bowel disease. 

The HERCULES study, which began in April, focuses on the immune system response of IBD patients after vaccination. These patients are often treated for their IBD with immunosuppressant drugs, which can increase the risk of getting more serious COVID-19 symptoms.

IBD is a term for two conditions — ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease — both of which involve chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.

“Most of my IBD patients are immunocompromised but they are also often younger and don’t have any comorbidities,” said Freddy Caldera, a UW Health gastrointestinal physician and associate professor of medicine. “So, getting data from this group will help us better understand the impact of immunosuppressive regimens on the immune response to COVID 19 vaccines.”

Researchers had initially enrolled 122 participants and found that 118 of them had a positive immune response. They’re now looking to enroll 100 more participants who have gotten a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or plan to do so soon. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently approved a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines for those who are immunocompromised.

Participating patients will have their blood drawn, and researchers will examine their levels of antibodies and T cells, which play a role in the body’s immune system response.

See more on the study here.

— Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, has formally asked GOP legislative leaders to sue the UW System over its refusal to submit COVID-19 policies to the Legislature for review through the administrative rules process.

Interim President Tommy Thompson has said the system believes it has the legal authority in state statute to implement policies such as requiring unvaccinated students to get weekly testing.

But Nass, co-chair of the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules, wrote the university’s response was a “dismissal of the authority of the legislature to exercise its constitutional right to control its delegated authority to state agencies.”

Nass had previously indicated he planned to ask GOP leadership to take legal action. The offices of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment on the letter.

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, and Sen. Rob Cowles, R-Green Bay, have expressed opposition to the Legislature taking legal action against the university.

Read the letter.