What We’re Reading: COVID-19 Vaccines Among Medicaid Beneficiaries; Walmart’s Low-Price Insulin; Moderna Vaccine and the Delta Variant

Vaccination rates among Medicaid beneficiaries remain low; Walmart introduces a less expensive insulin option; Moderna says its vaccine is effective against the delta variant.

Low Vaccination Rates Seen Among Medicaid Enrollees

Data indicate Medicaid enrollees are getting vaccinated for COVID-19 at lower rates than the general population, Roll Call reports. Despite the steady supply of vaccines in the country and expanded eligibility, in Ohio, just 22% of beneficiaries were vaccinated in May compared with 45% of all Ohioans. Low uptake among this population has experts worried, as poorer individuals tend to face worse health outcomes, including shorter life expectancies. Lack of access to transportation and childcare or less flexible work schedules could account for the low uptake. Polls also indicate higher levels of vaccine hesitancy among lower-income individuals.

Walmart Announces New Low-cost Insulin

Walmart has announced it will start to sell a lower-priced version of analog insulin to uninsured individuals, according to CNBC. The exclusive private-label version, ReliOn NovoLo, will be available to adults and children with a prescription this week and to members of Sam’s Club in mid-July. For patients, the product will cost around $73 per vial or $86 for a package of prefilled pens. Nearly 11% of the United States’ population currently have diabetes, while an additional 1.5 million individuals receive the diagnosis each year, accounting for about 14% of Walmart shoppers. The move comes after years of scrutiny around rising costs of the life-saving drug.

Moderna Vaccine Likely Effective Against Delta Variant

Moderna has stated its COVID-19 vaccine is effective against the highly contagious Delta variant, The Washington Post reports. Concerns around the variant have already prompted officials in Los Angeles County to re-instate its indoor mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status. The variant is already present in 96 countries and was first identified in India. According to Moderna, blood samples from fully vaccinated individuals produced antibodies against several variants, and investigators found only a “modest reduction in neutralizing titers” against delta. Data have not yet been peer reviewed.