Vol. IX | Issue 46                                                                           November 17, 2020
Is there actually an underinsurance crisis?
Sally Pipes writes for
Medical Economics
Over two-fifths of adults went without adequate insurance coverage in the first half of this year, according to new research from the Commonwealth Fund. That includes more than 40 million who are "underinsured."

Those headline numbers are scary. They're also misleading. Far too many Americans lack access to affordable health insurance. But that's largely a function of government over-regulation.

Let's start by unpacking what it means to be "underinsured." One of the ways the Commonwealth Fund considers someone underinsured is if his or her deductible accounts for 5 percent or more of annual household income.

That's not much. It's less than the average American family spends on entertainment and eating out each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Are we really facing an underinsured crisis when that "crisis" hinges on less than what we spend on the likes of dinner and a movie?  
Florida DOH
Moderna says vaccine prevents COVID-19 in large study as virus surges
Ben Fidler reports for
Healthcare Dive:

An experimental vaccine developed by Moderna and U.S. government scientists protected participants in a large U.S. study from developing COVID-19, a significant and anticipated finding that makes it more likely multiple coronavirus shots may soon be available to help slow the surging pandemic.

The result, which Moderna announced Monday morning, is from an early look at a clinical trial of 30,000 volunteers recruited at nearly 90 hospitals and clinics across the country. An independent committee overseeing the trial found Moderna's vaccine was 94.5% effective at preventing COVID-19 compared to a placebo. Their analysis was based on 95 cases of COVID-19, 90 of which occurred in participants given the placebo versus just five among those who received the vaccine.
What monoclonal antibodies are - and why we need them as well as a vaccine
Rodney E. Rohde
When President Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19, one of the cutting-edge experimental therapies he received was a mixture of monoclonal antibodies. But now a vaccine may soon be available. So are other therapies necessary or valuable? And what exactly is a monoclonal antibody?

Over the past few months, the public has learned about many treatments being used to combat COVID-19. An antiviral like remdesivir inhibits the virus from replicating in human cells. Convalescent plasma from the blood of donors who have recovered from COVID-19 may contain antibodies that suppress the virus and inflammation. Steroids like dexamethasone may modify and reduce the dangerous inflammatory damage to the lungs, thereby slowing respiratory failure.

The FDA issued emergency use authorization for Eli Lilly's monoclonal antibody, called bamlanivimab, and Regeneron is waiting for FDA's green light for its antibody treatment. Monoclonal antibodies are particularly promising in therapy because they can neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, and block its ability to infect a cell. This might be a lifesaving intervention in people who are unable to mount a strong natural immune response to the virus - those over 65 or with existing conditions that make them more vulnerable.

I've worked in public health and medical laboratories for decades, specializing in the study of viruses and other microbes. Even when a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available, I see a role for monoclonal antibody therapy in getting the pandemic under control.
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Inside a Rome hospital gripped by the coronavirus pandemic 

Italy is now dealing with tens of thousands of new coronavirus cases per day, as the once hardest-hit nation grapples with a new COVID-19 wave afflicting Europe. Chris Livesay gets a look inside a Rome hospital where doctors are struggling to keep pace with the virus.