What We're Reading: Japan Reports Vaccine Contamination Risk; Biogen Offers Aduhelm for Free; Hospitalization Risk With Delta Variant

Two people dead after receiving potentially contaminated Moderna COVID-19 vaccines in Japan; Biogen offers its controversial and expensive Alzheimer disease treatment for free to boost prescriptions; COVID-19 infection with the Delta variant may more than double the risk of hospitalization.

Concerns of Contaminated Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines in Japan

Following the suspension of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine in Japan on Thursday due to concerns over a contamination risk, 2 people have died after receiving doses from a batch suspected as contaminated, according to CNN. With 1.63 million doses suspended in Japan as of August 26, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, which distributes the Moderna vaccine in the country, said that a causal link between the vaccine and the deaths has not yet been established. However, the potential contaminant has been described as “particulate matter,” with results from laboratory tests to be made available in the next few days.

Biogen Offers Controversial Alzheimer Drug for Free

Amid slow claim reviews by Medicare, Biogen is offering aducanumab (Aduhelm), its controversial and expensive Alzheimer disease drug, free of charge to some patients. As reported by Reuters, the $56,000-a-year price tag and uncertain reimbursement from Medicare has led to division among physicians considering its use, along with the drug’s lack of clinical benefit observed in studies. To expedite treatment adherence, Biogen’s access program will provide aducanumab for free, with Florida’s First Choice Neurology having already received doses of the monthly infusion treatment.

Delta Variant May More Than Double Risk of Hospitalization

According to study findings published this past Friday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, COVID-19 infection with the Delta variant may more than double the risk of hospitalization compared with the Alpha variant. As reported by Forbes, health care data from 43,338 positive coronavirus cases in England between March 29 and May 23 indicated that the risk of hospitalization increased 2.26-fold in patients infected with the Delta variant, after adjusting for confounding factors. Notably, only 1.8% of assessed cases included individuals who had received both vaccine doses, with the majority of participants being partially vaccinated or unvaccinated.