What We're Reading: Maybe There Is No Doctor Shortage in the US

What we're reading, November 8, 2016: the US may not have a doctor shortage, it may just have an inefficient health system; there is a gap between the richest and poorest countries when it comes to spending on essential medicines; and scientists start another Zika virus vaccine test.

The United States might not have a shortage of doctors—the healthcare system might just be inefficient. According to The New York Times’ "The Upshot," the estimates are inaccurate that the United States is not producing enough physicians to keep up with the increased demand from both baby boomers aging and getting sicker and the increased access to care for people who had been uninsured before the Affordable Care Act. The problem, argues Aaron E. Carroll, MD, MS, is that the system doesn’t rely enough on mid-level practitioners, like physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

There is a gap between the richest and poorest countries when it comes to spending on essential medicines. Approximately 1 in 5 countries worldwide spend less per person per year on 201 essential medicines, revealing “massive inequities,” reported STAT. The research, published in Lancet, also provided some potential fixes, including the monitoring of affordability, price, and access, as well as increased transparency from the drug makers.

Scientists are still looking to develop a Zika virus vaccine, and they have launched another test in human volunteers. The experimental vaccine is effective in a virus similar to Zika and will be tested in 75 volunteers, according to NPR. The scientists will monitor the vaccine in the human subjects to see if they produce antibodies to protect them from the Zika virus. The government is already testing another potential Zika vaccine that injects DNA directly into a person’s arm.