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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Leaders of global agencies call for $50 billion to shore up pandemic-related supplies

The heads of four major global agencies — including the WHO and the International Monetary Fund  — are calling for world leaders to invest $50 billion towards ending the pandemic globally. The statement from the agencies doubled down on previous calls for vaccine equity, saying that sharing vaccine supplies with the rest of the world is a sure way to stop the Covid-19 pandemic. A recent IMF analysis found that $50 billion was the investment necessary to help shore up supplies not only of vaccines, but also of Covid tests and other treatments to quell outbreaks around the world. 

JAMA chief editor stepping down after backlash from podcast questioning racism in medicine

Howard Bauchner, the editor-in-chief of the JAMA network of journals, will step down at the end of June following backlash from a JAMA podcast that aired in February and questioned whether structural racism exists in medicine. Although Bauchner, who had been on administrative leave, did not make the podcast in question, he said in a statement yesterday that he took responsibility for it and an accompanying tweet that said, “No physician is racist, so how can there be structural racism in healthcare?” The podcast was created by JAMA deputy editor Edward Livingstone, who resigned in March soon after the controversy grew. The American Medical Association, JAMA's parent organization, is still investigating what happened with that podcast. Read more here

China reports the first detected human case of H10N3 bird flu

Chinese health authorities reported yesterday a human case of H10N3 bird flu, a rarely seen subtype of influenza A, Reuters reports. This appears to be the first known detection of an H10N3 infection in a person. It’s not clear how the man, a 41-year-old resident of Zhenjiang in Jiangsu province, became infected. H10N3 is a subtype of low pathogenicity, meaning it doesn’t kill chickens. It appeared, though, to make the man sick enough that he required hospitalization on April 28; the source of his illness wasn’t detected until a month later. China’s National Health Commission reported that an investigation revealed no additional cases among his contacts and that the man is now well enough to be discharged from hospital.

Inside STAT: Machine learning is booming in medicine. It’s also facing a credibility crisis


Machine learning, a subset of AI experiencing a boom in investment in medicine, is facing a credibility crisis, writes STAT's Casey Ross in a new story. Algorithms often rely on low-quality data sets, researchers describing these programs in studies don't often fully explain the statistical methods used, nor do they account for different groups the algorithm could be used for. The problem was especially apparent recently when a University of Cambridge team attempted to reproduce the more than 400 machine learning models that had been published describing different ways of detecting Covid illness in patients. They were all flawed, and shook scientists' trust in such work. “You read a lot of papers and your natural instinct is not to want to trust them,” one team member tells Casey. More here.

Supreme Court upholds J&J's $2 billion claims verdict in talc case 

The Supreme Court is leaving in place a 2020 verdict that said Johnson & Johnson would have to pay $2.1 billion to settle claims brought by 22 women who developed ovarian cancer after using the company's products. The decision from SCOTUS came one day after the pharma company asked for the court to throw out that verdict, claiming it was not treated fairly during a 2018 Missouri trial after which the company was initially ordered to pay more than twice its current bill of charges. Lawyers for the plaintiffs — nine of whom have died from their cancer — also alleged that the product contained asbestos, and that J&J downplayed the associated risks. J&J has denied these claims. 

A small percentage of clinicians are behind most buprenorphine prescriptions, study suggests

A small number of clinicians in the U.S. account for an outsized number of buprenorphine prescriptions for opioid use disorder, according to a new study. Examining the vast majority of retail pharmacy prescriptions between 2017-2018, scientists found roughly 5% of 50,000 providers treated half of all patients with a buprenorphine prescription. This group treated an average of 124 patients per month, well below the 275 patient-limit set by authorities. Given these trends, there is room for more buprenorphine prescribers — and to more patients — the authors suggest. Only authorized providers have historically been prescribing the medication, but in April, the Biden administration announced it would now allow nearly all health providers to prescribe buprenorphine, which may also help address the problem.

Covid-19 in the U.S.

Cases yesterday: 23,010
Deaths yesterday: 641

What to read around the web today

  • Anthony Fauci’s pandemic emails: ‘All is well despite some crazy people in this world’. The Washington Post
  • How CVS is tapping into its consumer expertise in a new venture fund. STAT+
  • An elitist med school application ritual died this year. Slate
  • Newer methods may boost gene therapy's use for more diseases. Associated Press
  • A bootcamp for digital health executives seeks to demystify the inner-workings of the drug industry. STAT+

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

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