Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

NIH to start 'flurry' of large studies of potential Covid-19 treatments

The NIH is preparing to launch a "flurry" of large clinical trials that test therapies for Covid-19 that go beyond the limited arsenal currently being used. These new trials will range from studying antiviral monoclonal antibodies to treat Covid-19 to studies testing blood thinners in very sick Covid-19 patients to prevent problems caused by blood clots. NIH Director Francis Collins tells STAT that all these studies will be “really well-powered, rigorously designed clinical trials.” The plan for these new studies comes at an especially crucial time for the pandemic response: Only two drugs — Gilead's remdesivir and the steroid dexamethasone — have shown any benefit for Covid-19 patients, but the pandemic, at least here in the U.S., seems to show few signs of abating. On each of the past two days, the country has recorded more than 1,000 deaths in a single day since early June, and is on track to cross 4 million cases in the coming days.  

Parents — especially non-white parents — are more in favor of slower reopening of schools

Nearly twice as many people want to take a slower approach to reopening schools versus getting back to in-person learning quickly, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll. Here's more from the poll, which surveyed more than 1,300 adults, including parents of school-aged children: 

  • Views: 60% of parents think it's better to open schools later when the risk of getting Covid-19 is as low as possible. Three-quarters of parents of color prefer waiting, compared to 51% of white parents who said the same. 
  • Concerns: Majorities of parents are worried about school teachers and staff getting sick or their child being unable to maintain distancing requirements. Two-thirds worry about their child falling behind academically and socially if schools don't reopen.  
  • Other effects: Around 90% of parents of color worry about their child or someone in their family getting sick if kids go back to school (half of white parents say the same). People of color are also likelier to worry about losing income or social services for their child if kids can't go back to school. 

Top-ranked clinical journals largely allow preprint submissions

As scientists increasingly publish their work on preprint servers, a new study find that the vast majority of top-ranked peer-reviewed clinical journals also accept submissions of these preprints. Peer-reviewed journals have historically had policies against accepting research that has already been shared publicly. Scientists looked at 100 clinical journals with a 2018 impact score that only the top 7% of journals tend to have, and found that 86% of them — including the Lancet and Cancer Discovery — allowed preprints. Eleven of the journals, such as JAMA, had a policy that allows preprints on a case-by-case basis, while only one journal — the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology — did not allow submissions for research that had been published on a preprint server. The study also found no association between a journal's impact factor and its policy on preprints. 

Inside STAT: Eyeing an IPO, Hims expands further into virtual mental health care


San Francisco-based Hims and Hers — which rose to popularity offering medications for hair loss and erectile dysfunction and women's health products — is now venturing into mental health care. The company is rolling out a feature to connect people with providers who can help prescribe medications for common mental health conditions. The new service — which will soon include individual talk therapy and is part of a broader push into telemedicine — may position the company well as it considers going public with a potential $1 billion valuation. STAT Plus subscribers can read more in an exclusive report from STAT's Erin Brodwin. 

How Covid-19 has affected heart transplants

Many medical procedures unrelated to Covid-19 have seen a recent dip as a result of the pandemic, and heart transplants seem to be no exception. According to a new study, 600 people were taken off waitlists — a 75% increase — for a heart transplant in the two months between mid-March and mid-May (which the authors considered the Covid-19 period), compared to around 340 during the first two months of the year. There was also a 70% drop in waitlist additions in the Northeast, although some other parts of the U.S. also experienced a drop. Recovery of hearts from deceased donors decreased 26% during the Covid-19 period than before this duration. And with the exception of the Northwest, all other regions of the country saw a decrease in the volume of heart transplants. 

Limiting handgun sales to those 21 and over may help decrease suicides among adolescents

States that restrict the sales of handguns to those aged 21 and older may have lower suicide rates among adolescents, according to new research. Scientists looked at suicide data between 2001-2017, and found that each state that limited handgun sales to those 18 and older had an additional 344 suicides among 18-20-year-olds compared to states with a 21-and-over policy. In contrast, states that limited handguns to those 21 or older had around two fewer suicides per 100,000 adolescents in the 18-20 age group. Two states — Missouri and South Carolina — lowered the age limits for handgun purchases from 21 to 18 during the study period, and saw an increase in adolescent suicide rates. At the same time, Wyoming and West Virginia raised their age limits to 21 in 2010 and didn't see a significant change in their suicide rates. 

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (Español: 1-888-628-9454; deaf and hard of hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

What to read around the web today

  • Health tech companies are shelling out more to lobby Washington during the pandemic. STAT Plus
  • Before the A.D.A, there was Section 504. The New York Times
  • This nurse has traveled from hot spot to hot spot during the Covid-19 pandemic. Vox
  • Virus rages on coasts as hurricane fears flare. E&E News

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Thursday, July 23, 2020


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