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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

I'm still trying to process — as I'm sure many of us are — the violence at the Capitol yesterday. I'm deeply grateful to the reporters, photographers, and videographers who risked their safety to document the riot. And as the pandemic worsens, here's the latest: 

CDC reports more allergic reactions to Covid-19 vaccines, but cases remain few

Twenty-nine people have developed anaphylaxis in response to being vaccinated against Covid-19, CDC officials shared yesterday. The cases occurred in people who had been vaccinated using both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. These reports of allergic reactions don’t change the CDC’s recommendations for who ought to be vaccinated, the agency said, emphasizing that the positive effects of vaccination still outweigh the negative risks. The agency said it appears at present that the rate of anaphylaxis cases is about 5.5 per 1 million vaccine doses given.

Scientists monitor a coronavirus mutation that could affect vaccine strength

As experts keep an eye on the B.1.1.7 variant of SARS-CoV-2 that is circulating in more than 30 countries around the world, scientists are also keeping an eye on yet another mutation. First identified in a variant seen in South Africa and since also found in Brazil, this mutation could potentially be even more worrisome than B.1.1.7, which seems more transmissible than the original virus. The newest mutation seems to change a part of the virus that antibodies in people are now used to recognizing, which could mean that antibodies now become less effective at neutralizing the virus. But scientists stress that this doesn’t mean that existing vaccines won’t work. “With one mutation or even three mutations, it’s expected the antibodies will still recognize this variant, though they might not recognize it as well as other variants,” one virologist tells STAT.

Peer review process may not explain gender differences in academic publishing

The peer review process is unlikely to be the source of differences in academic publishing rates between men and women, a new study concludes. Scientists analyzed data from 145 journals, spanning 1.7 million authors and 740,000 referees. After examining three possible sources of bias — referee selection, their recommendations, and editorial decisions — the analysis revealed that referees tended to be favorable in their feedback to papers with a solo female author or those with women co-authors. In biomedicine, health, and physical sciences, manuscripts with a higher percentage of female authors were more likely to be accepted. Still, “our findings do not mean that peer review and journals are free from biases,” the authors write, and encourage research into factors such as a scientist’s institution to determine other biases behind gender parity in academic publishing. 

Inside STAT: CRISPR cures progeria in mice, raising hope for one-time therapy


Magali Gonzalez Sierra, who has progeria, prepares for her 15th birthday party in El Cabuyal, Colombia. (LUIS ROBAYO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

A CRISPR-based fix seemed to cure, in mice, the genetic disease known as progeria. Scientists describe in a new paper how they altered a single misspelled pair of letters in the DNA of mice with progeria — which is characterized by accelerated aging and kids with the disease typically die around age 14. Half the altered mice lived 510 days (which is old age for mice) and twice as long as untreated mice. The CRISPR’d mice also looked and moved better than mice without treatment. If proven in human trials, “this has the feel of something that could be a true genetic cure with a single injection,” one expert tells STAT’s Sharon Begley, who has more here

New research awards announced to honor of those who died of pancreatic cancer

The American Association of Cancer Research and the nonprofit Lustgarten Foundation just announced two new research awards in honor of two political icons who died of pancreatic cancer last year. One, named for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is specifically for an early-career female researcher, while the other, named for late Congressman John Lewis, is for a pancreatic cancer researcher from an underrepresented community. For the next three years, the organizations will award $300,000 grants for a chosen researcher for each award, representing nearly $2 million in total funding. 

Maps showing Covid prevalence aren't associated with better knowledge of the disease

Many organizations, including the CDC, have issued maps showing Covid-19 infections across the U.S., but a new survey shows such maps alone aren’t sufficient for educating the public on the virus. Experts analyzed responses from more than 2,600 people, and found that those who hadn’t reported viewing a map of Covid-19 cases had more knowledge on the total number of cases in the U.S. than those who had looked at a map. At the same time, those who viewed a map to understand Covid-19’s prevalence were more optimistic about the pandemic improving within two weeks of being surveyed than those who weren’t surveyed. Willingness to adhere to social distancing guidelines did not differ based on map viewing trends. 

Covid-19 in the U.S. 

Cases yesterday: 253,145
Deaths yesterday: 3,865 (another new record)

What to read around the web today

  • Operation Warp Speed’s Moncef Slaoui will stay on as a consultant for Biden. STAT
  • Japan declares emergency for Tokyo area as cases spike. Associated Press
  • Illinois is first in the nation to extend health coverage to undocumented seniors. Kaiser Health News
  • L.A. officials allowed dozens without medical credentials to get COVID-19 vaccine early. Los Angeles Times

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

Shraddha

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Thursday, January 7, 2021

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