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Morning Rounds Elizabeth Cooney

How Biden plans to shore up Covid-19 vaccine supply

The Biden administration is willing to consider almost anything to boost the nation’s dwindling supply of Covid-19 vaccines. A new strategy document released yesterday, totaling nearly 200 pages, offers the first clear list of the options President Biden has, though it doesn’t specifically say he’ll actually take all of them. Some ideas are controversial, such as cutting the amount of vaccine administered to each American. He’s also made it clear he wants to utilize the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of key supplies, and some more straightforward options such as buying more doses. Governors and mayors around the country have complained they do not have enough vaccines to meet current demand. STAT’s Nicholas Florko has more.

Believing in masks is not the same as wearing them

President Biden’s plea to wear masks for 100 days to stanch the spread of Covid-19 might fail even among people who profess to believe in them, a new online poll says. While most Americans said they think masks prevent infection, many don’t follow through. In responses collected from March 2020 through this January, two-thirds of adults reported being within 6 feet of non-household contacts, but only half said they mostly or almost always wore a mask. White people were the least likely to mask up (46%), compared to Black people (67%), Latinos (63%), and people of other races (65%). One exception was the grocery store: Of the 81% of people who shopped there, 90% wore a mask.

Kids' eye exposure to hand sanitizer on the rise during the pandemic, small study finds

As alcohol-based hand sanitizer has cropped up in many public places during the pandemic, a new, small study in France finds a sevenfold increase in children's eye exposures to the gel during last spring and summer compared to the same period in 2019. Researchers looked at a national poison control database from April 1-Aug. 24 last year. The hand sanitizer exposures reported usually caused mild or virtually no injury, but several more severe cases had corneal inflammation. During that same monthslong stretch, 16 children were admitted to a Paris pediatric eye hospital for exposure to hand sanitizer, compared to only one in 2019. Researchers suggest the spike can likely be attributed to hand sanitizer dispensers often being placed at children's eye level. One caveat: The study's findings may not be generalizable to other countries.

Inside STAT: In the face of history, Black doctors; group seeks to build trust in vaccines 

A health care worker administers a Covid-19 vaccine to a woman at St. Johns Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa, Fla. (octavio jones/getty images)

In September, the National Medical Association, a professional society of African American doctors, formed its own in-house FDA to vet early data on Covid-19 treatments when the FDA appeared to be buckling under political pressure. The doctors later endorsed the emergency authorizations for both the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines. Now their mission is to build trust in those vaccines. “Medical professionals have to understand that the fear of Covid-19, which is this invisible looming foe, that fear does not always outweigh the very clear and well-documented danger of going to a health care system that has proven itself to be as deadly as disease,” said clinical epidemiologist Gabrielle Perry, citing forced sterilization as one example. STAT’s Eric Boodman has more.

Mapping out metastasis in cancer

Once cancer spreads from its first foothold in the body, chances of recovery plummet. To better understand and possibly predict the path of metastatic cancer cells, scientists now have a new tool that marshals CRISPR, cellular barcoding, and luminescent imaging. Researchers implanted human lung tumors in mice after editing barcoded sequences in the cancer cells’ genes to contain a marker that would be passed on as the cells divide. They added a glowing protein to be visible under a microscope and charted how the cells multiplied and moved. At this single-cell level, they could see metastasis is not an on/off switch. Tissues where the cells traveled made a difference and some cells evolved to grow more or less aggressive, revealing new research avenues to explore.

Few high-schoolers eat recommended amount of fruits and vegetables

When a national survey asked if adolescents’ fruit and vegetable consumption matched dietary guidelines, the answer was clear: not even close. Only 7% of high schoolers met the daily goal for fruit (1.5 cups for females; 2 for males) and only 2% met the vegetable mark (2.5 cups for females; 3for males). Males did better than females on both food groups (10% vs. 5%). Black students topped the list at 12%, followed by Hispanic students at 8% and white students at 6%. The issue is important, researchers say, because patterns set in youth can affect later life, when adequate fruit and vegetable intake can cut the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and obesity.

Covid-19 in the U.S.

Cases yesterday: 214,619
Deaths yesterday
: 3,142

What to read around the web today

  • How many vaccine shots go to waste? Several states aren’t counting. ProPublica
  • Newsom promised 1 million Covid-19 vaccinations. California can’t tell if he hit goal. Los Angeles Times
  • FDA approves first monthly injectable medicine to treat HIV infection. STAT 
  • Can Robert Bigelow (and the rest of us) survive death? New York Times
  • Opinion: Eric Lander is not the ideal choice for presidential science advisor. Scientific American

Thanks for reading! Have a nice weekend,

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Friday, January 22, 2021


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