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What We’re Reading: Broadening Vaccine Eligibility; Latest Vaccine Data Released; Medicaid Work Requirement Arguments Paused


President Biden orders states to broaden vaccine eligibility by May 1; new data from Novavax, Pfizer point to high vaccine efficacy; Supreme Court will not hear arguments on Medicaid work requirements.

Biden Urges Expanded Vaccine Eligibility

In his first prime-time address as president Thursday night, President Joe Biden instructed states to make all adults 18 years and older eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine by May 1, The Associated Press reports. If Americans continue practicing mitigation efforts like mask wearing and social distancing, Biden said the possibility of returning to a semblance of normal life could be achieved by Independence Day, when Americans may be able to safely gather in small groups. In the address, the president also announced he will deploy 4000 active-duty troops to support vaccination efforts across the country and described the launch of a new website to help individuals find doses once they become eligible.

Novavax, Pfizer Release Positive Vaccine Data

New data from Novavax Inc show the company’s COVID-19 vaccine was 96% effective in preventing cases caused by the original version of SARS-CoV-2, and 86% in doing so against a more contagious variant first detected in the United Kingdom. Results of the late-stage trial conducted in the United Kingdom point to a combined 90% effectiveness rate overall, Reuters reports. In addition, a recent study concluded Pfizer/BioNTech’s approved COVID-19 vaccine is 97% effective against symptomatic COVID-19, according to CBS News. The real-world evidence collected from Israel indicates the vaccine offers more protection than earlier thought. Data also show that prevention against asymptomatic disease reached 94%.

Supreme Court Will Not Hear Arguments on Medicaid Work Requirements

The Supreme Court has called off upcoming arguments on Medicaid work requirements proposed by the Trump administration, according to The Associated Press. The move comes after a request was made by the Biden administration to do so. Although the court was scheduled to hear the issue on March 29, the current administration already decided that work requirements do not support Medicaid’s goal of providing health care to lower-income Americans. The decision marks the fifth time since the 2020 presidential election the court has dismissed or delayed cases it had once agreed to hear.

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