What We're Reading: State Vaccine Allocation Reduced; Drop in Opioid Prescriptions; Southern California ICU Beds Reach Capacity

Several states should expect fewer doses next week of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus disease 2019 vaccine; a new analysis finds that prescription opioid use has dropped by 60% since 2011; availability of intensive care unit (ICU) beds in Southern California reaches 0%.

State Vaccine Allocation Reduced

The Hill reports that the Trump administration has been informing governors of several states to expect fewer doses next week of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) than had been originally planned. In Washington, Governor Jay Inslee tweeted that his state’s allocation of the vaccine was cut by 40%, with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan also stating its allocations would be less than expected. As Hogan noted, officials provide states with projections on what will be shipped at the beginning of the week; these projections are then updated and finalized on Friday to ship on Sunday.

Drop in Opioid Prescriptions Since 2011

According to STAT, a new analysis indicates that prescription opioid use has dropped by 60% since the height of prescriptions filled for opioids in 2011. On a per capita basis, 29 opioid pills were used per person in the United States last year, a 29% drop from 2011, with a further 17% forecasted drop this year from 2019 in the number of morphine milligram equivalents, which is the measure used to describe potency of pain relief. By year’s end, usage is expected to drop down to levels not observed in nearly 2 decades.

Southern California ICU Beds Reach Capacity

Yesterday, the availability of intensive care unit (ICU) beds across Southern California reached 0%, with officials warning that conditions in hospitals are expected to grow worse if the pandemic continues to spread without intervention. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the lack of ICU beds will cause hospitals to prioritize the sickest patients to receive the highest levels of care possible, with patients in less severe condition being placed in other areas of the hospital, such as a recovery area or in the emergency department for extended periods.