What We're Reading: Fourth Shot Less Effective Against Omicron; Texas Abortion Law Remains; Spending on Unproven COVID-19 Drug

Israeli study finds the added antibody protection from a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose is not enough to prevent Omicron infection; Texas abortion law remains in effect after appeals court ruling; insurer spending for the unproven COVID-19 drug ivermectin was estimated at $2.5 million for a week last summer.

Israel Study Finds Fourth Vaccine Dose Less Effective Against Omicron

As reported by USA Today, findings of a preliminary study conducted at an Israeli hospital indicated that the increase in antibodies created by a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine was not enough to prevent infections from the Omicron variant. With more than 500,000 people having received their fourth doses in Israel, findings of the study underscore concerns around disproportionate vaccine distribution in underserved countries that have faced shortages of vaccines. Yesterday, the World Health Organization announced that its COVAX program delivered 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to poor nations worldwide; the announcement noted that the milestone is only a reminder of the work that remains.

Texas Abortion Law to Remain in Effect After Federal Appeals Court Ruling

The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled yesterday against sending the controversial Texas abortion law back to the only judge who has ever blocked the restrictions, which opponents fighting the case said will allow the law to remain in effect for weeks if not months. As reported by the Associated Press, the ruling indicates that legal challenges to the law will next be heard by the Texas Supreme Court, and may not come until after the US Supreme Curt makes a ruling in Mississippi’s case to overturn the landmark Roe v Wade and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v Casey decisions that increased abortion rights nationwide.

Insurer Spending for Unproven COVID-19 Drug Estimated at $130 Million

A study published last week in JAMA showed that needless insurer spending on the unproven COVID-19 treatment ivermectin in the United States was estimated at $2.5 million for the week of August 13, 2021, which would extrapolate to a total sum of $130 million annually. As reported by CIDRAP, antivaccine advocates have touted the effectiveness of ivermectin despite a lack of supporting evidence and warnings by the FDA against its use for COVID-19. For the week of August 13, private and Medicare plans paid an estimated $1,568,996 and $924,720, respectively, for ivermectin prescriptions for COVID-19.