What We’re Reading: Democratic Senate Could Spell Change for Health Care; Vaccine Benefit Outweighs Allergic Reaction Risk; LA Faces Oxygen Shortage

A Democratic majority in the United States Senate could mean changes in health care policy are to come; CDC says benefits of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine outweigh risks of allergic reactions; Los Angeles faces a shortage of oxygen.

Democrats Gain Senate Majority

With the election of Georgia’s Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the United States Senate, President-elect Joe Biden will now have an opportunity to enact a variety of health policies with the support of a Democratic majority, The New York Times reports. Although big structural changes remain unlikely, a series of smaller adjustments bolstering the Affordable Care Act (ACA) stand the best chance of passing in both houses. Such changes could include making insurance subsidies more generous, providing coverage to low-income Americans residing in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid, and effectively rendering moot the pending Supreme Court lawsuit that seeks to overturn the ACA. However, more sweeping changes included in Biden’s agenda such as implementing a national public option may be harder to enact.

CDC Says COVID-19 Vaccine Benefits Outweigh Allergic Reaction Risk

As rollout of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines begins across America, reports of 21 severe allergic reactions may have some worried about receiving either the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. However, the rate of severe allergic reactions remains minimal as nearly 2 million Americans have already been vaccinated, The Washington Post reports. On Wednesday, the CDC announced reports of rare reactions should not dissuade Americans from getting vaccinated as the risk of catching and becoming severely ill or dying from COVID-19 outweighs that of a potential allergic reaction. Of the 21 individuals who experienced a reaction, most had a history of such reactions and 20 have fully recovered. Currently, COVID-19 is killing an average of 2670 Americans each day, while the CDC foresees the imminent spread of a highly contagious coronavirus variant, first reported in the United Kingdom, throughout the United States.

Los Angeles Reports Dire Oxygen Shortages

Systems and equipment needed to deliver oxygen to patients with COVID-19 in Los Angeles are faltering, prompting county officials to warn paramedics to conserve the life-sustaining gas, according to Kaiser Health News. Hospitals in the region are also delaying patients’ release as they lack enough oxygen equipment to send home with them. The influx of COVID-19 patients in Los Angeles and other parts of the country has stressed the infrastructure in place for delivering the gas to hospitals and patients. Equipment such as portable cylinders that hold the gas, concentrators that pull it from the air, nasal cannulas, and tubing used to deliver oxygen are running low. During the first wave of COVID-19 in the spring of 2020, hard-hit states like New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut also faced similar challenges.