What We're Reading: J&J Blood Clot Concerns; Abortion Pill Access; Pandemic Health Spending

The CDC is recommending that people at risk of developing blood clots receive the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines instead of Johnson & Johnson (J&J); the FDA lifts restrictions on mail order access to abortion pills; US health care spending more than doubled during the first year of the pandemic.

Moderna, Pfizer Vaccines Recommended Over J&J

As reported by NPR, the CDC accepted recommendations by a panel of experts yesterday who said that the COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech should be preferred over the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) shot due to growing concerns of rare blood clots. Cases of rare and potentially fatal thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), as well as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, have been indicated to be prevalent in about 1 in every 100,000 cases among at-risk women aged 30 to 49 years. Approximately 15% of TTS cases have been fatal.

Restrictions Lifted on Abortion Pill Access by Mail

As the Supreme Court hears challenges to laws that would limit access to abortions, the FDA announced yesterday it will permanently lift nationwide restrictions on access to abortion pills, which will allow patients to receive the medication by mail instead of having to go in person to a certified health provider. Reported by The New York Times, the move will also allow providers to prescribe abortion pills and send via mail to patients through telemedicine appointments, an action that is banned in 19 states. The FDA said that pharmacies could begin dispensing the abortion pill mifepristone if they become certified by the drug’s manufacturer and if they receive the prescription from a certified health provider.

US Health Care Spending More Than Doubled in Year One of Pandemic

According to a report published this week in Health Affairs, data from CMS’ Office of the Actuary shows that US health care spending more than doubled in the first year of the pandemic: from a 4.3% increase in 2019 to 9.7% last year. Reported by Politico, most of the increase was attributed to efforts made to contain the spread of COVID-19, with assistance to health care providers, public health programs, and Medicaid payments rising 36% last year. The increase in health care spending was noted to come while the overall economy contracted by 2.2%, in which the medical system accounted for just less than one-fifth of the entire US economy at the end of 2020.