Health Highlights: Dec. 15, 2020

Below are newsworthy items compiled by HealthDay staff:


High Interest in Obamacare Sign-Ups

A rush to register for Obamacare is expected Tuesday as the open enrollment deadline for Obamacare in 36 states that use HealthCare.gov looms.

The Dec. 15 deadline in those three dozen states is for coverage that begins Jan. 1, while 14 other states and Washington, D.C. have later dates, the Associated Press reported.

Interest in the annual insurance sign-ups has increased as the country struggles with the coronavirus pandemic, according to advocates and analysts.

"The safety net is working," Chris Sloan, of the consulting firm Avalere Health, told the AP. He said next year's enrollment in the Affordable Care Act could be greater than this year's 11.4 million people.

"I think it's just reflective of the need being greater for people who have lost their jobs and need to find some other form of health insurance," he told the AP.


More Americans Say They'll Get COVID-19 Vaccine

Seven in 10 Americans now say they'll "definitely or probably" get a COVID-19 vaccine, a new survey finds.

That's an increase from 63% in September and suggests a steady rise in trust, according to CNN.

A third of the 1,676 adults who took part in the Kaiser Family Foundation poll said they want to get a vaccine as soon as possible, while 39% said they'd wait and see how initial vaccinations go before getting a shot.

Black Americans, people in rural areas and Republicans expressed more reluctance about getting vaccinated, CNN reported.

About 15% of respondents they would "definitely not" get a COVID-19 vaccine. "This group is disproportionately made up of Republicans and of people with no more than a high-school level education," according to Kaiser.

Just 9% of survey participants -- mostly essential workers -- said they'd get vaccinated only if it was a requirement at work, school, or other areas of their lives, CNN reported.


London's Coronavirus Cases Rose Despite Lockdown

It's unclear why London had an increase in coronavirus infections in the last weeks of a nationwide lockdown, an Imperial College London study shows.

Infection rates across the country fell by about 30% between Nov. 13 and Dec. 3, but in London they rose from 0.98% in mid-November to 1.21% at the start of December, the Washington Post reported.

"We need to understand why the effectiveness of lockdown appears to be uneven, so that future strategies can be better tailored to the evolving epidemic," study co-author Steven Riley said in a statement.

While the findings may lead to questions about the effectiveness of lockdowns, the study authors noted that London and southern England had a sharp rise in infections in September and October, but never reached rates as high as those in the north, the Post reported.

That suggests that without a lockdown, COVID-19 infection rates in London "may have gone much higher," the researchers noted.

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