What We’re Reading: ACA Expansion in Democrats’ COVID-19 Bill; Vaccine Hesitancy, Refusal; CanSino Vaccine Reports Efficacy

House Democrats include a major expansion of Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies in their proposed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) relief package; differences between vaccine hesitancy and refusal are spotlighted; CanSino Biologics’ 1-shot vaccine is 65.7% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 cases.

Democrats Include Temporary ACA Expansion in COVID-19 Relief Package

Reported by POLITICO, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) relief package released yesterday by House Democrats included the first major expansion of Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies in over a decade, which would fully subsidize ACA coverage for Americans earning up to 150% of the federal poverty level and those on unemployment insurance. The subsidy boosts would last for 2 years and may be further extended or made permanent if Congress were to later vote to do so. The bill would additionally end the so-called subsidy cliff, as those making over 400% of the federal poverty level would now be eligible for ACA subsidies and have their premium costs capped at 8.5% of income.

Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy, Vaccine Refusal

In an article by Kaiser Health News, the difference between vaccine hesitancy and vaccine refusal was spotlighted, with factors such as the rapid development and approval of COVID-19 vaccines cited as reasons contributing to hesitancy. Notably, a national survey finds that 15% of health care workers who had been offered the vaccine refused, with nursing home personnel indicated to be more likely than hospital staffers to decline. Although many of the featured health care workers do plan on receiving the vaccine, some have voiced concerns about potential adverse effects of vaccines and indicated that they would wait to see how recipients fare nationwide.

CanSino Reports Efficacy, Pfizer Vaccine Neutralizes COVID-19 Variants

Reported by Bloomberg, CanSino Biologics’ 1-shot experimental coronavirus vaccine was found to be 65.7% effective against symptomatic cases and 90.98% effective against severe cases of COVID-19. Pending approval, the CanSino vaccine would represent another single-shot option in addition to Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, which is seeking FDA approval and has been shown to be 66% effective overall at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19. In other vaccine news, a study published yesterday in Nature Medicine finds that the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine neutralized 3 COVID-19 variants. Reported by CIDRAP, the variants assessed included the more contagious B117 strain first identified in the United Kingdom and 2 new variants confirmed in South Africa.