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Covid-19 in India sees no signs of abatement

The situation in India is more dire than ever. The country has recorded more than 300,000 cases every day for more than a week — including more than 400,000 on Friday — with no sign of abatement. Here's more of the latest:

  • The U.S. announced that it would restrict travelers from India starting tomorrow, May 4. The ban wouldn't apply to U.S. citizens or permanent residents, or to some relatives of these groups. 
  • India expanded vaccine eligibility to all adults on Saturday, but many places are struggling to get the supply they need. For instance, Mumbai, the largest city in the country, shut its vaccination centers over the weekend because of a lack of supply. Fewer than 2% of India's population is currently fully vaccinated. 
  • Adar Poonawalla, the head of India's Serum Institute — which is responsible for manufacturing the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine — left India last week, an interview with The Times in London revealed. Poonawalla cited constant threats against him as a reason. “The level of expectation and aggression is really unprecedented. It’s overwhelming," he said.

WHO chief plans to run for a second term

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO's director-general, plans to run for another five year-term, STAT has learned from a source familiar with his thinking. His intention to run for a second term sets up a referendum on the WHO's handling of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic under his leadership. His tenure thus far has not been without controversy. Even before the pandemic, and soon after he took office, the second-worst Ebola outbreak took hold in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and it took two years to contain. WHO directors-general may run for a maximum of two five-year terms, and it is unclear whether others will challenge Tedros' election.

Six patients with dementia went to Mexico for an unproven gene therapy, a biotech CEO claims

Six patients with dementia recently traveled to Mexico to be injected with an experimental gene therapy from a Seattle-area company called BioViva. The CEO of the company — who herself said she received more than 100 injections of an experimental gene therapy in Colombia — said at an event last month that she was awaiting results from a human study of six patients. On Friday, she told STAT the procedures were done last year in Mexico. If true, this would represent the first time that gene therapy has been attempted as a possible solution for age-related dementia. The effort raises questions about medical tourism and how the industry often targets patients who are desperate for a cure, even if that treatment is unproven and can permanently alter a person's genetic makeup. STAT's Megan Molteni has the exclusive here

Inside STAT: What's the deal with fecal transplants?

You've probably heard of fecal transplants, but what exactly are they? Fecal transplants — technically named fecal microbiota transplantation, or FMT — is pretty much what it sounds like. Fecal samples from people with a healthy mix of bacteria and viruses in their gut are transplanted into people who don't have that right mix of microbes. This is often the case in those with C. difficile, an infection that can occur after prolonged use of antibiotics. In the latest installment of "The Facts, STAT!," reporter Kate Sheridan explains what FMT is and the tricky road the procedure is facing on its way to becoming a clinical reality. Watch the short video here.

Curiosity about smoking, marketing from tobacco industry are predictors of cigarette use in youth

Kids who expressed curiosity about cigarettes and those who were exposed to marketing from the tobacco industry were most likely to take up smoking, according to new research. Looking at data from nearly 9,000 adolescents ages 12-17 who didn't smoke, scientists found those who responded to a survey saying they were curious about smoking, would try a cigarette if their best friend offered one, or would try one soon were more likely to have taken up smoking by the time they were surveyed about their habits five years later. Those who had seen tobacco-related content on social media, had a coupon or discount from a tobacco company, or who got a free sample were also more likely to say they were smokers when surveyed. Future research could consider how illicit drugs and other tobacco products could also predict cigarette smoking, the authors write. 

Pediatric mental health visits increased during pandemic months

Mental health visits to the emergency department increased among pediatric patients during the first few months of the pandemic, according to a new study. Scientists looked at electronic medical record data from more than 11,400 patients who visited an ED at a children's hospital between January 2018 and January 2021. Although the overall number of pediatric mental health visits decreased between March and December 2020, the proportion of ED visits for mental health reasons increased during the pandemic months. Those who went to the ED during the pandemic were more likely to need hospitalization, and those who were admitted also tended to stay longer than those admitted during non-pandemic months. As the pandemic wears on, the findings point to the need for more pediatric mental health services, the authors write. 

Covid-19 in the U.S.

Cases yesterday: 29,367
Deaths yesterday: 323

Vaccine doses distributed, per CDC312,509,575
Total doses administered: 245,591,469

What to read around the web today

  • Study finds pregnancy-related health care coverage varies widely from state to state. The 19th
  • I’m a pediatrician who treats trans youth. Alabama could soon put me in jail. them
  • Psychiatry confronts its racist past, and tries to make amends. The New York Times
  • CVS and Walgreens have wasted more vaccine doses than most states combined. Kaiser Health News
  • Opinion: How the FDA’s ‘master plan’ will affect NIH funding for digital medicine projects. STAT+

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

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