Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Register here and tune in starting at 11 a.m. ET today for a live video chat on Covid-19 featuring STAT's Helen Branswell and Rich Besser, the CDC's former acting director and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's current CEO. 

Many states far short of Covid-19 testing levels needed for reopening, new analysis shows

More than half of U.S. states will have to significantly step up their Covid-19 testing efforts before they can even begin considering relaxing restrictions after May 1, a new analysis from STAT and Harvard researchers shows. The state-by-state review reveals paints a fragmented picture: 31 states and the District of Columbia were doing too little testing last week to identify most infected people in a timely manner. See how your state fares in an exclusive from STAT's Sharon Begley.

Here's what else you need to know about the pandemic: 

  • Despite President Trump's repeated promotions of the antimalaria drug hydroxycholoroquine, the FDA on Friday issued a warning against using the drug to treat Covid-19 outside of the hospital or in a clinical trial setting, saying that it was aware of serious heart rhythm problems in some patients who took the drug.
  • STAT's Ed Silverman spoke with top FDA official Janet Woodcock about the FDA's decision to grant emergency authorization for hospitals to use hydroxycholoroquine, despite limited evidence to suggest the drug's use. Read their conversation here.  
  • Writing in a STAT First Opinion, scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health caution that it won't be enough to just have an effective Covid-19 vaccine — it's also going to be about how well the vaccine is delivered to those who need it. 

WHO on 'immunity passports': No evidence to suggest Covid-19 antibodies are protective

The WHO issued guidance on Friday on "immunity passports," a certification that many cities and countries around the world are considering giving to those who have already had Covid-19 infection, and which would allow them to potentially resume going to work and participate in other activities. Scientists believe that previously infected individuals will be protected due to antibodies, but the WHO is expressing concern about relying on such "passports" because how much protection the antibodies confer — and for how long — is still unknown. The agency is also warning that many testing kits to check for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies still need to be properly validated. 

The agency on Friday also announced a new worldwide initiative to develop a host of medicines, tests, and vaccines for Covid-19, and to ensure global access to these products. Several countries and independent agencies have signed on to the project, although China and the U.S. were notably missing, and a spokesperson for the U.S. mission in Geneva told Reuters that the U.S. would not be participating in the effort. 

Inside STAT: Introducing STAT's Covid-19 Drugs and Vaccines Tracker

Drug makers and companies are trying all sorts of different ways to curb the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind Covid-19. Some are reaching back to previously approved drugs to repurpose them for Covid-19, while others are exploring completely novel avenues. Others are focused on therapeutics, while some companies are setting their sights on coming up with a vaccine. To help you keep track of all the novel efforts underway, STAT today is launching a tracker, curated by STAT's Damian Garde, that lists all drug and vaccine candidates in the pipeline. Check it out here

State, city officials report increase in calls to poison control hotlines about disinfectants

Several places are now reporting an uptick in calls to local poison control centers following President Trump's remarks last week speculating about injecting disinfectants to combat Covid-19. The governors of Michigan and Maryland told ABC's "This Week" yesterday that their states had seen an increase in the number of calls asking about ingesting disinfectants — Maryland's Gov. Larry Hogan said his state's hotline received "hundreds of calls." New York City's poison control hotline also reported more calls in the 18-hour period following the president's comments on Thursday, compared to this time last year. So far, states are only reporting an increase in calls and not necessarily cases of poisoning. At the same time, the inquiries to call centers may be part of a larger trend — the CDC last week also reported a 20% increase in cases from exposure to household cleaners in the first three months of 2020 compared to the same time in 2019. 

More than 1 in 5 children in China's Hubei province report depressive symptoms

A new survey of children who were quarantined in the Chinese province of Hubei — whose capital is Wuhan — finds that more than a fifth of them reported symptoms consistent with depression. Here's more: 

  • The study: Researchers analyzed responses from more than 1,700 children in grades 2-6 in the cities of Wuhan and Huangshi. The children had been subject to home confinement due to the pandemic for at least two months. 
  • The findings: Almost 23% of students reported depressive symptoms, while nearly 20% reported symptoms of anxiety. Those in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, were more likely to report these symptoms than children in Huangshi. 
  • The implications: The lack of outdoor activities and social interactions may have influenced the rates of mental distress reported by the children, and future research will have to consider the long-term mental health effects of restrictive measures, the authors suggest. 

PBS premiering new documentary on immunotherapy pioneer Jim Allison

If you're looking for something new to watch, PBS' documentary series "Independent Lens" is premiering a new 90-minute documentary tonight on Jim Allison, the cancer biologist who won a Nobel Prize in 2018 for his pioneering work on how the body's immune system can be harnessed to fight cancer. The documentary, called "Jim Allison: Breakthrough" and narrated by actor Woody Harrelson, chronicles Allison's struggles, from losing his mother at a young age to cancer to taking on the medical establishment to help it see the clinical promise of immunotherapy. Check out a preview of the documentary and local listings for when it will air in your area here

What to read around the web today

  • Seattle’s leaders let scientists take the lead. New York’s did not. The New Yorker
  • Invisible virus, invisible fear: How to navigate the unseen? Associated Press
  • A father dying from coronavirus, a distraught daughter and a midnight rescue. ProPublica
  • Telehealth will be free, No copays, they said. But angry patients are getting billed. Kaiser Health News
  • Women academics seem to be submitting fewer papers during coronavirus. The Lily

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Monday, April 27, 2020


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