What We're Reading: COVID-19 Relief Bill Updates; FDA Probes Toxic Metals in Baby Food; Novel Test Approved to Detect Past Infection

The House of Representatives is expected to grant final approval to the COVID-19 relief bill by Tuesday; FDA probes major baby food companies selling products containing unsafe levels of toxic heavy metals; FDA issues emergency authorization for novel test to detect past COVID-19 infection.

Updates on COVID-19 Relief Bill

This past Saturday, the Senate passed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, sending it back to the House of Representatives for final approval, which is expected by Tuesday. Reported by CNBC, the bill is expected to be signed into law by President Joe Biden prior to the March 14 deadline, when enhanced federal unemployment benefits are set to expire. In addition to direct payments of $1400 to most Americans, the bill would provide a $300 weekly increase to jobless benefits into September and an expansion of the child tax credit for 1 year.

FDA to Address Toxic Heavy Metals in Baby Food

Reported by POLITICO, the FDA plans to investigate reports of toxic heavy metals commonly found in baby food. Spotlighted by a report released last month by the House Oversight subcommittee, findings indicated that major baby food companies were selling products that their own internal testing showed contained arsenic, lead, and cadmium at levels that health experts would consider unsafe for infants. As the FDA begins their investigation, the agency told baby food makers they are expected to actively reduce heavy metal levels in their products flagged by internal food safety controls.

FDA Issues EUA for Novel Test to Detect Past COVID-19 Infection

The FDA issued an emergency authorization for a first-of-its-kind-test developed by Seattle-based Adaptive Biotechnologies that leverages machine learning to detect past COVID-19 infections. Unlike prior tests that assessed levels of coronavirus antibodies, the T-Detect COVID test looks for evidence of past infection in the body’s adaptive immune system, particularly T cells, that function by helping the body remember past viruses.