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Morning Rounds Elizabeth Cooney

U.S. will have enough doses to vaccinate 300 million Americans by end of summer, Biden says

President Biden plans to purchase another 200 million doses of coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, which should give the U.S. enough to fully vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of this summer, the administration announced yesterday. The number of vaccines being shipped weekly to states will go up, from 8.6 million to 10 million. The administration is working to purchase an additional 100 million doses from each of the two vaccine manufacturers. It wasn't immediately clear whether the Biden team began new negotiations with both drug makers to buy additional doses, or piggybacked off the companies’ earlier negotiations with the Trump administration. STAT's Nicholas Florko has more.

FDA warns consumers not to use alcohol hand sanitizers from Mexico

Hand sanitizers from Mexico containing a toxic form of alcohol have been placed on import alert by the FDA, based on a sharp increase the agency has seen in products labeled to contain ethanol that actually have methanol as an ingredient. Methanol, or wood alcohol, can be toxic when absorbed through the skin. Methanol-contaminated hand sanitizers have been implicated in blindness, cardiac effects, effects on the central nervous system, hospitalizations, and death. Exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system, or death. Young children who ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink them as an alcohol substitute are most at risk.

Helping people stay in their homes tied to fewer Covid-19 cases

Keeping the lights on, the water running, and the landlord at bay could turn out to be good ways to control Covid-19 infection, a new analysis suggests, based on the idea that social distancing is easier for people who can stay home. When utility shutoffs and evictions were halted, Covid-19 cases in certain counties across the country fell by 8% from March through November 2020, the report says. The study can't prove cause and effect, but the authors venture that if such measures had been implemented nationwide, eviction moratoria would have resulted in a 14% decrease in Covid-19 cases and up to a 40% decrease in deaths. Utility shutoff moratoria would have cut infections by 9% and deaths by 15%, the study estimates.

Inside STAT: Elective, not optional: Orthopedic patients await surgeries delayed by Covid-19

Robin Young, the Boston-based host of the NPR and WBUR news program “Here & Now.” (courtesy liz linder)

Robin Young wants you to know she thinks her second knee replacement is the least important thing in the world. With hospitals caught in the grips of a Covid-19 surge straining their capacity, she doesn’t compare her pain to the life-and-death struggles that have erased most elective surgery from hospital calendars. “I’d give up a bed for somebody struggling to breathe,” she told me. “Gladly.” Still, after months of bone-on-bone pain that makes every footfall hurt, the host of NPR and WBUR’s “Here & Now” is eager to reschedule her surgery. She’s not alone. For some people anticipating operations to ease their pain or halt their disease, hospitals’ decisions about what’s elective involves a grim calculus of how long they can wait. I have the full story here.

Biomedical engineering researchers urge NIH to end discrimination in funding Black scientists

Insufficient federal funding for research by Black scientists is the biggest driver of racial inequities that prevent Black faculty members from contributing to science and achieving their full potential, a network of women deans, chairs, and faculty in biomedical engineering write in a new commentary. Black applicants receive NIH funding at about 55% of the rate that white principal investigators of similar academic achievement win, they note. “We thus ask our non-Black colleagues to consider being in our Black colleagues’ shoes for a moment: Imagine needing to spend twice the amount of time grant writing to achieve the same funding level,” the authors write. “Racial funding disparity by the [NIH] remains the most insidious barrier to success of Black faculty in our profession.”

Smoking studies paint deadly picture

Two new reports serve as reminders of the toll tobacco takes on Americans’ health. While smoking has been trending downward for decades, it’s still the leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking 480,000 lives every year, the American Lung Association says in its annual report. And a new study from the American Cancer Society says deaths attributable to cigarette smoking vary widely by geography, accounting for nearly 4 in 10 cancer deaths in parts of the South and Appalachia but fewer than 1 in 10 cancer deaths in parts of Utah and Idaho. The smoking studies resonate during the coronavirus pandemic: Smokers have a higher risk of worse Covid-19 illness than never-smokers while tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure disproportionately harm communities already experiencing worse Covid-19 outcomes.

Covid-19 in the U.S.

Cases yesterday: 181,905
Deaths yesterday
: 3,127

What to read around the web today

  • CDC finds scant spread of coronavirus in schools with precautions in place. Washington Post
  • India’s unusual vaccine problem: plenty of shots, but few takers. Bloomberg
  • Opinion: Women: Coronavirus vaccines won’t make you infertile. New York Times
  • Relative of virus victim asks to meet WHO experts in Wuhan. Associated Press 
  • A writer lost his singing voice, then discovered the 'gymnastics' of speech. NPR

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

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