What We're Reading: CureVac Low Vaccine Efficacy; Kickbacks to Orthopedic Surgeons; Australia Limits AZ Vaccine

The effectiveness of CureVac's COVID-19 vaccine is among the lowest reported; a new report highlights kickbacks and medical industry payments from device makers to surgeons; Australia limits use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine to people over 60 years.

CureVac’s Vaccine 47% Effective Against COVID-19

Among the lowest efficacy data reported so far from a COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer, CureVac announced yesterday that its mRNA vaccine candidate is 47% effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. As reported by The New York Times, trial results were based on data from 135 volunteers who got sick from COVID-19 in Latin America and Europe. More than half of these cases were indicated to have been caused by variants that have been shown to be more transmissible or to lower the effectiveness of vaccines, such as the Lambda variant, prominent in Peru, which accounted for 21% of the samples assessed. The trial is ongoing, with a final analysis expected in 2 to 3 weeks.

Billions in Kickbacks Funneled to Orthopedic Surgeons

A new report from Kaiser Health News (KHN) highlights the issue of kickbacks paid by device makers to orthopedic surgeons to use their products. Notably, medical industry payments to orthopedists and neurosurgeons who operate on the spine were shown to have risen markedly in recent years, with payments ranging from royalties to stock holdings. In fact, a KHN analysis found that compensation flows to these surgeons from manufacturers of hardware for spinal implants, artificial knees, and hip joints totaled more than $3.1 billion from August 2013 to the end of 2019.

Australia to Limit Use of AZ Vaccine to People Over 60

Today, Australia’s Minister for Health Greg Hunt said that the country will restrict its recommendation for AstraZeneca's (AZ) COVID-19 vaccine to people older than 60 years, following cases of clotting in people who received the shot. As reported by Reuters, 60 cases of blood clots and 2 resulting deaths have been linked to the 3.3 million doses of the AZ vaccine, which had previously been recommended for those over the age of 50. The move follows similar decision by several European Union member states that have also stopped administering the AZ vaccine in people below a certain age, typically ranging from 50 to 65 years.