What We’re Reading: Fewer Uninsured Children; Updated Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccines; Two Diabetes Drugs Performed Best in Study

About 200,000 more children have health insurance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic; if FDA-approved, bivalent COVID-19 vaccines for younger children are expected to become available by early to mid-October; a trial compared metformin plus sitagliptin, liraglutide, glimepiride, and insulin glargine for maintaining blood glucose levels.

More Children Have Health Insurance Since COVID-19 Pandemic Began

More children have gained health insurance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Stateline reported. According to an analysis of US Census Bureau data by Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families, the child uninsurance rate was 5.4% in 2021 and 5.7% in 2019. This percentage change reflects about 200,000 more children with health insurance in 2021 compared with 2019. This “small but significant decline,” according to the center, is likely due to provision passed by Congress that prohibited states from dropping any individuals from Medicaid during the pandemic. As of 2021, about 4.2 million children were still uninsured.

Bivalent Vaccines for Younger Children Expected by Mid-October

If approved by the FDA, bivalent COVID-19 vaccines for younger children are expected to become available by mid-October, the CDC said in a vaccine planning guide. Pfizer’s booster would be made available for children aged between 5 and 11 years, and Moderna’s would be available for children aged between 6 and 17 years. Currently, Pfizer and Moderna’s updated boosters—developed for better efficacy against the Omicron variant—are authorized for individuals aged 12 and older and aged 19 and older, respectively. If these bivalent boosters are authorized for younger children, mRNA COVID-19 vaccines may no longer be authorized as booster doses.

Insulin Glargine, Liraglutide Performed Better Than 2 Other Diabetes Drugs

A large clinical trial found that insulin glargine and liraglutide maintained blood glucose levels in the recommended range better than 2 other FDA-approved drugs in individuals with type 2 diabetes. In the National Institutes of Health study, 3 patient groups received metformin plus sitagliptin, liraglutide, or glimepiride, all of which increase insulin levels. The fourth patient group received metformin plus insulin glargine U-100, a long-acting insulin. Those who received metformin plus liraglutide or insulin glargine achieved and maintained target blood glucose levels approximately 6 months longer than those receiving sitagliptin, which was least effective in maintaining target levels. However, the study authors noted none of the combinations performed overwhelmingly better, with nearly three-quarters of participants unable to maintain target levels over 4 years of follow-up.

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