What We’re Reading: Donating 500 Million Pfizer Doses; Resignation Over Alzheimer Drug; Nevada’s Public Option

United States to buy and donate 500 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the world; an FDA advisor resigns over a controversial Alzheimer drug approval; Nevada becomes the second state to offer state-managed health insurance plans.

US to Buy, Donate 500 Million Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine

President Biden is set to announce his administration will purchase 500 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to be donated to the rest of the world, The Washington Post reports. The first 200 million will be distributed via COVAX in 2021 and the rest will be shared in the first half of 2022. The vaccines will be targeted at low- and middle-income countries, while Pfizer is selling the shots to the United States at a low “not-for-profit” price. The deal was lauded by public health experts as many have been pushing for increased efforts to vaccinate the world. According to The Hill, the United States is also in talks with Moderna to buy more vaccines to send abroad.

FDA Advisory Committee Member Resigns

A member of the FDA’s advisory committee, David Knopman, MD, has resigned over the agency’s approval of a new Alzheimer’s drug, Biogen’s aducanumab (Aduhelm), CNN reports. Although the drug marks the first new therapy approval in the space since 2003, the decision proved controversial as the FDA’s Peripheral and Central Nervous System Drugs Advisory Committee raised objections to doing so. Advisors said there was not enough data to support the drug’s approval as initial trials indicated it did not improve the condition at all. In November, the committee voted against the suggestion the drug could help patients.

Nevada's Public Option

Nevada is slated to become the second state in the nation to offer state-managed health insurance plans, according to The Associated Press. Washington is currently the only state with a similar law in place. The law, signed by Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, seeks to create the health insurance plans by 2026 and was passed by the state’s legislature in May. It will require insurers bid to cover Medicaid recipients, while state employees would also bid to offer a public-option plan. Those supporting the measure argue it will expand coverage to Nevada’s 350,000 uninsured residents, while opponents worry forcing hospitals and providers to accept patients at lower costs may make them move out of state.

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