What We’re Reading: Measles Outbreaks Possible; NIH vs Moderna; Mental Health Benefits Expand

The World Health Organization and CDC warn of the potential for measles outbreaks; the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Moderna battle over patent rights to Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine; a new Kaiser Family Foundation shows employers have increased mental health care offerings.

WHO, CDC Warn of Higher Risk of Measles Outbreaks

According a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC, 22 million missed initial doses of the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella) among infants may have increased the risk of potential outbreaks of measles, says Reuters. Despite cases of measles plummeting over 80% in 2020 vs 2019, more children missed their vaccine doses—3 million more compared with 2019—and that has increased their vulnerability. Redirection of resources to fight the COVID-19 pandemic has also increased this risk, experts say. Currently, the CDC recommends 2 doses of the MMR vaccine, with the first administered between age 12 and 15 months and the second, age 4 to 6 years.

NIH, Moderna Clash Over COVID-19 Vaccine Patent

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is continuing to fight for 3 of its scientists to be given credit on a patent application for their part in developing Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, reports The New York Times. Although the vaccine resulted from a years-long collaborative effort between the government agency and the pharmaceutical giant, much more than bragging rights are at stake. Should the researchers receive this credit, the government would be allowed to license the manufacture of the vaccine, thereby potentially providing access to poorer nations. A total of $9.5 billion has been given to Moderna in connection with its vaccine, with $1.4 billion earmarked for vaccine development and $8.1 billion for an order of 500 million doses.

Kaiser Family Foundation Report Details Diversified Mental Health Benefits

Employee mental health care benefits have seen a boost in light of the ongoing pandemic, according to the 2021 Employer Health Benefits Survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation, reports Kaiser Health News. Among this year’s 1700 survey respondents at companies with at least 50 workers, 3% expanded their out-of-network service coverage, 4% dropped cost sharing for mental health benefits, 6% increased in-network access to mental health providers, 16% provided employee assistance programs and new resources for mental health, and 31% increased mental health service access options. Additional findings from the report show more employees are accessing mental health services vs 2020 and that wellness programs have adapted to accommodate employees who continue to work from home.