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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

FDA advisory panel endorses Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, clearing way for authorization

An FDA advisory panel of experts has overwhelmingly voted (there was one abstention) to recommend that the FDA grant emergency use authorization to Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine to those aged 18 and older. If the FDA follows the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee's recommendations — the agency is expected to issue an EUA today — the vaccine will become the second available for Covid-19. The U.S. would also become the first country in the world to give the go-ahead to the Moderna vaccine, which was shown in Phase 3 trials to be about 95% effective in preventing infection in those who got both shots. 

Sackler family members deny responsibility for the opioid crisis

In a rare public appearance yesterday, two members of the Sackler family that controls OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma denied responsibility for the opioid epidemic in the U.S. There were few answers to be had at the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing, which largely served as a venue for lawmakers to get out their anger. David and Kathe Sackler, who served as board members for Purdue, were mostly contrite in their opening remarks, and deflected blame for downplaying the risks of addiction. Kathe Sackler stopped short of apologizing personally for the opioid crisis, saying, “[T]here is nothing I can find I would have done differently based on what I learned and understood then from management and from my colleagues on the board.”

Why soccer in Europe could spell trouble in Asia and more gems from the BMJ's Christmas issue

Here's another installment of quirky research from the BMJ's now-traditional Christmas issue, from how 20% of doctors in Sweden also had parents who were doctors to how European football (i.e. soccer) games may lead to more traffic accidents in Asia. 

  • Physician parents: 1 in 5 physicians in Sweden now also have a parent trained in medicine, which is three times more than was the case for doctors born 30 years ago. Although this was an observational study, experts caution that an increased proportion of doctors from medical families could mean a less diverse workforce, which could in turn negatively affect patient outcomes. 
  • Coping with clowns: Not one for those with coulrophobia, but an analysis of 24 trials found that children admitted to hospitals with clowns reported less anxiety during medical procedures than those kids who were getting treated in hospitals without clowns. The findings suggest that incorporating laughter and play into medical practice could help young patients. 
  • Soccer stressors: Days when high-profile soccer teams in Europe play matches are associated with more traffic accidents in parts of Asia. Matches are played in the evening in Europe, which could mean staying up until the early hours of the morning for those in Taiwan and Singapore. The resulting sleep deprivation could explain the prevalence of traffic incidents, the authors suggest. 

Inside STAT: New pediatrician network puts spotlight on climate change’s effects on children


(Molly Ferguson for STAT)

Physicians in recent years have stepped up their advocacy on issues that some have seen as outside their purview, including climate change. Now, a new network of pediatricians across all 50 states in the U.S. is working on a grassroots level to underscore the effects of a warming planet on children's health. Called the American Academy of Pediatricians Chapter Climate Advocates Program, the network is working beyond the medical setting to lobby for local laws that promote climate-friendly policies, from stricter vehicle emissions standards to moving away from fossil fuels. Already, doctors say climate change is leading to worsening asthma attacks and premature births due to excess heat. “All of those issues are not a one-time illness,” one expert tells me, adding, “This is why a lot of us say that climate solutions are health solutions.” Read my story here.

U.S. adults are increasingly worried about being infected with Covid-19

A new Kaiser Family Foundation survey of more than 1,600 U.S. adults finds that, compared to February, more people are now worried that they or someone in their family will get the coronavirus. More than two-thirds now say they're worried about getting infected, compared to fewer than half who said the same earlier this year. Half of adults report a negative impact on their mental health as a result of the pandemic, with higher shares of women, those younger than 30, and non-white individuals reporting a decline in mental health. At the same time, 70% say they can continue following distancing guidelines for another six months or until a vaccine becomes available, and nearly three-quarters say they wear a mask every time they leave home. 

Effective Covid-19 vaccines earn 'breakthrough of the year' title 

It's been less than a year since Covid-19 burst onto the scene and the world is on the brink of having two vaccines against the deadly virus — a major reason why Science chose effective vaccines against Covid-19 as its breakthrough of the year. “Never before have so many competitors collaborated so openly and frequently. Never before have so many candidates advanced to large-scale efficacy trials virtually in parallel," correspondent Jon Cohen writes, adding that the vaccine race also saw government, academia, industry come together to throw unprecedented levels of money and talent toward the shared goal of a safe and effective vaccine. 

Covid-19 in the U.S.

Cases yesterday: 233,271
Deaths yesterday: 3,270

What to read around the web today

  • Fatal neglect: As more women fill America’s jails, medical tragedies mount. Reuters
  • Some states say Pfizer vaccine allotments cut for next week. Associated Press
  • HHS Secretary tells staff: My wife is sick with Covid. Politico
  • The family court judge who threatened a mother with contempt of court for getting her child a Covid-19 test. ProPublica
  • The lifesaving potential of less-than-perfect donor kidneys. Scientific American

Thanks for reading! More on Monday, 

Shraddha

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Friday, December 18, 2020

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