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What We Know and Don’t Know About the Origins of Covid 

By Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Benjamin Mueller, The New York Times

The origin of Covid-19 remains unknown, even after three years. Scientists and investigative spies have not yet come to an agreement on what caused the initial spread of the virus. It has been difficult to gather evidence because as the Huanan market was shut down and disinfected, all of the animals were killed before any investigations could take place. 

This week, the Energy Department reported with low confidence that the virus spread because of an accidental laboratory leak in China. Other scientists have also come to the same conclusion, believing that it came from a laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Last October, Republicans on the Senate health committee produced an analysis concluding that the spread was the result of a research incident, but they used public evidence instead of new and classified evidence. So, the evidence used did not comprehensively support their claims. Some scientists also believe the virus spread from a laboratory because the Wuhan Institute asked for funding to research coronaviruses and transmission to humans – but this project was never funded.

 With that being said, scientists and government officials are skeptical due to these reasons. At this point, the FBI has also concluded with moderate confidence that the Covid-19 pandemic was caused by a laboratory leak, while four other intelligence agencies and the National Intelligence Council reported with low confidence that it spread through natural transmission. 

For now, the true origin of the coronavirus spread remains a mystery.

By Rebecca Sugerman

Eli Lilly to Cut Insulin Prices, Cap Costs at $35 for Many People With Diabetes

By Jen Christensen and Betsy Klein, CNN

This week, Eli Lilly announced it would cut prices of common forms of insulin and cap out-of-pocket costs at $35 for those with private insurance. President Joe Biden has responded to Eli Lilly’s announcement, saying it is a “big deal,” as Americans should not be required to pay hundreds of dollars for this drug. Last year, President Biden began championing this issue by signing a law to cap insulin at $35 for seniors and he now hopes that other manufacturers will follow Eli Lilly’s actions.

People with diabetes do not produce enough insulin or are not using the hormone efficiently and must rely on this drug every day. A 2022 study found that diabetes has become the fastest-growing chronic disease in the world, with over 37.3 million people with diabetes. Further, as the demand for insulin has increased dramatically, so has retail prices. From 2014 to 2019, the average retail price of insulin increased 54%. The cost of insulin has been an issue for many people for years. In fact, at least 16.5% of people in the United States who use the drug report rationing it due to its high cost. This new price cap will automatically apply at most pharmacies, or a coupon will be provided to patients if the electronic system does not automatically adjust the price.

by Jordyn Rosenberg

Where Restrictions on Abortion Pills Could Matter Most in the U.S.

By Allison McCann and Amy Schoenfeld Walker, The New York Times

A federal judge in Texas is set to rule on a case that would revoke approval of the standard two-pill abortion regimen. The case was brought to court by an anti-abortion physician group called The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine and is based on the accusation that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) failed to follow approval protocol for the medications mifepristone and misoprostol. The group also claims that both mifepristone and misoprostol have harmful hormonal effects on adolescents. In wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs would make access to abortion even more difficult.

According to the CDC, more than half of all reported abortions rely on the two-pill regimen. The FDA approved the regimen in 2000, and since then about 5.6 million patients have chosen medication as their means of abortion. This would be the first time that a federal court would order the FDA to revoke a drug against their own judgment. The prevalence of medicated abortions grew during the pandemic and then gained more popularity after Roe v. Wade was overturned. During the pandemic, there was also a rise in the number of telehealth abortion services offered, and these platforms relied on prescribing patients mifepristone and misoprostol. The federal judge, who was appointed by former President Trump, has been outwardly critical of abortion as recently as 2015. Abortion clinics around the country are gearing up for the medications to become illegal, and anticipate significant stress on their capacities to provide abortion services. Clinics will have to perform more procedural abortions, requiring additional clinician training and greater costs to patients. 

Regardless of the ruling, abortion providers are hopeful that patients will still have access the affordable abortion. The World Health Organization has already approved a misoprostol-only abortion regimen that is just as safe as the two-pill protocol but may be slightly less effective at terminating a pregnancy. Anti-abortion organizations continually attempt to restrict abortion access in the U.S., leaving patients to rely on illegal and dangerous medications and procedures.

— by Nolan Shah

Items contributed by: Rebecca Sugerman, Jordyn Rosenberg, and Nolan Shah