What We’re Reading: Pfizer Underscores Vaccine Safety; COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy Updated; Democrats Push Health Care Reforms

Pfizer says a newly formulated dose of its vaccine is safe and effective in children; CDC data underscore the efficacy of the 3 COVID-19 vaccines; Biden aims to reform health care with trillion-dollar package.

Pfizer, BioNTech Say Vaccine Effective in Children

According to a company press release, a clinical trial of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine in children aged 5 through 11 revealed the immunization is safe and effective, The Washington Post reports. The dose used in the trial is one-third of that approved for teens and adults and is administered in 2 shots. Pfizer and BioNTech expect to submit the data to the FDA by the end of September, and from there it must undergo more safety and efficacy reviews by regulators. Pfizer’s data are not yet published or peer reviewed. The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that about half of 12- to 17-year-olds eligible for the approved vaccine have received at least 1 dose.

All 3 Available Vaccines Continue to Prevent Hospitalization

New CDC data underscore the efficacy of the 3 COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States, USA Today reports. Investigators researched efficacy over the course of 5 months—March through August—in individuals without compromising conditions. When it came to keeping people out of the hospital, Moderna’s vaccine was the most effective at 93% compared with Pfizer’s 88% and Johnson & Johnson’s 71%. Over the first 120 days of the study period, Pfizer’s vaccine efficacy decreased from 91% to 77% while Moderna’s vaccine only dropped from 93% to 92% efficacy. Despite some variation in levels of protection, the authors concluded all 3 shots provide substantial protection against hospitalization.

Biden Package Aims to Reform Health Care

Included in President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan are several changes Democrats hope will improve the health of millions of Americans for decades to come, according to The Associated Press. The $3.5 trillion package includes provisions for dental work for seniors on Medicare, ending high pricing on prescription drugs, and new options for long-term care at home. Currently, around 145 million Americans are covered by government health programs, while the bill also aims to provide coverage for low-income individuals unable to get Medicaid coverage due to political and ideological battles. Republicans are expected to oppose the bill as a whole, claiming the package is too big and costly.