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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

I'm back and excited to pen this newsletter again! I'm very grateful to my colleagues — especially Elizabeth Cooney — who generously filled in during my absence. 

One thing before we get to the news: We just launched the search for our fifth class of STAT Wunderkinds, which is our annual search for the brightest postdocs, medical residents, and other early-career scientists. Learn more about the competition and how to nominate someone here

India imposes Covid-19 lockdowns, while Australia and New Zealand 'bubble' up for travel

As the vaccination campaign continues steadily here in the U.S., let's check in on the view in other parts of the world: 

  • In response to the dire situation continuing to unfold in India, the  government yesterday announced that all adults in India will be eligible to receive a Covid-19 vaccine starting May 1. In recent days, the country has recorded more than 200,000 new Covid-19 cases and 1,000 deaths daily, a trend that is throttling the country's health care system. Many parts of the country, including the capital city of New Delhi, are imposing new lockdowns in an effort to reverse the virus' course.
  • In the first, albeit small, steps toward reopening to the rest of the world, Australia and New Zealand are officially in a travel bubble of their own. Under this arrangement, which had been in the works for several months but was impeded by smaller outbreaks of Covid-19, residents of the two countries can travel to the other country without needing to quarantine post-arrival. 
  • The European Medicines Agency will be holding a briefing today on the results of its review of blood clots associated with Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine. Although the EMA approved the J&J vaccine in early March, widespread use of the vaccine has yet to begin across Europe. Earlier this month, the regulator concluded there's a link between AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine and rare but dangerous clotting events.

Hearing loss in older adults may also mean less physical activity

Older adults with hearing loss may be less likely to be physically active, according to a small new study. Looking at data from nearly 300 adults ages 60 to 69, researchers found that adults with hearing loss, on average, reported nearly 35 more minutes of sedentary activity daily compared to those without hearing loss. Those with hearing loss also reported nearly 30 fewer minutes of light physical activity, and almost six fewer minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical exercise. Those with hearing loss tend to be socially isolated and also tend to have depression, both of which could explain the link found in the study. The study authors suggest that future research ought to investigate whether treating hearing loss could also help improve physical activity in older adults. 

Black Americans report worse mental health after incidents of racial violence

The near-constant racial violence, including police killings of Black individuals, is taking a toll on the mental health of Black people in the U.S., and a new study finds more evidence to strengthen the link. Researchers looked at 49 incidents of racial violence between 2013 and 2017, and linked the incidents with responses to a national health survey. Black individuals reported more poor mental health days in the weeks when two or more incidents of anti-Black violence occurred and when national interest was higher. The mental health of white individuals was not similarly correlated with racial incidents. Reducing anti-Black violence would likely also lead to improved mental health among Black communities, the researchers behind the study write.

Inside STAT: We know a lot about Covid-19. Experts have many more questions


A transmission electron micrograph of a SARS-CoV-2 virus particle. (NIAID)

It's been nearly 16 months since SARS-CoV-2 first burst onto the world stage, and there is a lot about this coronavirus that we have since learned. We know, for instance, that individuals can be infectious and asymptomatic, and that public health measures such as masking and distancing work to curb the virus' spread. But there's still a lot left to know, and STAT asked epidemiologists, infectious disease specialists, and other experts to weigh in on the biggest questions that are still keeping them up at night. Their responses vary from wanting to discover how and when the pandemic truly began to why this coronavirus is able to replicate in the upper airways in a way that its predecessor could not. STAT's Helen Branswell has the discussion around these and other questions in her latest here

More than half of U.S. teens report some sexual experience

Guttmacher Institute study finds that over half of U.S. adolescents have had some sexual experience. Here's more from the study, which looked at 2006-2019 data from those ages 15-19: 

  • Overall trends: More than 50% of adolescents — male and female — reported any kind of sexual experience, including vaginal and oral sex. The proportion of teens who said this, while still over 50%, decreased over the study duration.
  • Age-related trends: More than 70% of 18- and 19-year-olds reported some sexual experience, compared to around 40% of 15-17-year-olds who said the same. 
  • Contraception: The proportion of females reporting contraceptive use at last intercourse increased from 86% at the beginning of the study to 91% by 2019. While males reported a slight decrease in condom use, they also reported an increase in their partners' use of IUDs or implants. 

New book traces the roots of the opioid crisis through the Sackler family

A new book out this month, “Empire of Pain” from author Patrick Radden Keefe, is a deep dive into the opioid crisis in the U.S. But the book also offers an intimate look at the powerful Sackler family, best known for their ownership of Purdue Pharma, the company that made and marketed OxyContin, the blockbuster medication that helped fuel the opioid crisis. STAT's Andrew Joseph spoke with Keefe about the book, including why the Sacklers and Purdue deserve specific scrutiny over the role that so many other groups — including the FDA — may have played in the opioid crisis, and what might be next for the family known for being secretive. More here

Covid-19 in the U.S.

Cases yesterday: 68,041
Deaths yesterday: 863
If you or someone you know needs help navigating a mental health crisis, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI. Or text "NAMI" to 741741.  

What to read around the web today

  • Biden officials met privately with 3M, AmerisourceBergen, PhRMA and more to debate shoring up the national stockpile. STAT+
  • Billions spent on coronavirus fight, but what happens next? Associated Press
  • Biden administration considering rule to cut nicotine in cigarettes. The Wall Street Journal
  • The future of voice tech in medicine is here. Can reality live up to the promise? STAT+
  • Do brain implants change your identity? The New Yorker

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

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