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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

How the world can avoid screwing up the response to Covid-19 again

Even as Covid-19 cases drop off in many parts of the U.S., experts are still preparing for resurgences at local, regional, or even national levels, and the one unifying point is that if and when the next wave hits, the response has to be better than during this first wave. STAT's Sharon Begley and Helen Branswell asked experts what mistakes and incompetent decisions have to be avoided for the next time around, and the responses ranged from prioritizing early warnings about an impending outbreak to paying more attention to the impact on disenfranchised communities. Read more here

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

  • In a call with reporters, Bill Gates expressed disappointment over President Trump's recent decision to withdraw funding for the WHO. “WHO is important for all the global health work that we do,” Gates said, adding, “Everyone should make sure that if we need to improve the WHO, that’s what we do, but that we stay together.”
  • The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine is enrolling pregnant women in a new clinical trial aimed at testing whether plasma from recovered Covid-19 patients could be used to help improve the health of those sick with the infection. This is a rare instance of a non-pregnancy trial enrolling pregnant women, and even rarer among Covid-19 trials. 
  • AstraZeneca has announced partnerships to manufacture and distribute 2 billion doses of the experimental Covid-19 vaccine created by Oxford University, if it proves to be safe and effective. The public-private partnerships CEPI and Gavi would be helping to produce and distribute 300 million doses, and AstraZeneca reached a deal with India's SII to produce an additional billion doses to middle- and low-income countries. 

Lancet, NEJM retract major Covid-19 papers

The Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine yesterday retracted two major Covid-19 studies published last month. The Lancet study had called into question the safety of the malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine when used to treat some patients with Covid-19, while the NEJM study looked at blood pressure medicines and Covid-19. The retractions, which were requested by the authors, came after several experts raised concerns about the database used in both studies. In statements announcing the retractions, the study authors shared that the company maintaining the database, Surgisphere, was not cooperating with their request for an independent audit of the data and that they were unable to access the raw data. Read more here

Covid-19 cases are still surging worldwide

Although the pandemic may be ebbing in some countries, Covid-19 cases are surging in several others and worldwide counts are exceeding 100,000 new cases every day, according to a new New York Times database. The Times reports that May 30 saw the highest number of reported new cases — 134,064 — in a single day worldwide, and that the increase globally is largely due to growing outbreaks in Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. Brazil, Peru, Egypt, and Bangladesh are among the countries where case counts have been doubling every two weeks, the report says. And while some of the increase is due to more testing, it seems that the infection surge elsewhere is because the coronavirus is only just arriving there. Check out more of the latest numbers in our Covid-19 Tracker

Inside STAT: The killing of George Floyd, the drug industry’s response, and what comes next

This week's episode of STAT's Readout LOUD podcast is a little different. "The podcast is focused on biotech and drug development, and we usually don't go too far off topic. but in this current moment, we felt that we couldn't ignore George Floyd's death and the protests around policing practices," STAT's Rebecca Robbins tells me. The episode looks at how biotech companies have responded to current events. "Issues around racism and inequality, after all, are deeply important to the stuff we normally cover," Robbins says. The hosts are joined by longtime biotech executive Tony Coles, who is also a founding member of the Black Economic Alliance, a group of business leaders who raise money for candidates and causes. "We cannot divorce the twin engines of social progress and economic opportunity," Coles says of the business community right now. Listen to the episode here

Medicaid expansion associated with increased access to contraception for the most vulnerable

A new study finds that Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act also expanded access to contraceptive care among the most underserved women. Researchers looked at 2013-2016 data from more than 500,000 women — more than half of whom were in states that expanded Medicaid — and found that more women in non-expansion states had access to contraceptives by 2016. However, the use of long-acting reversible contraceptive methods (which are considered among the most effective birth control methods and include IUDs and other implants) was higher in Medicaid expansion states. Women who went to clinics funded by the Title X program — which is specifically for those from low-income backgrounds — were also more likely to get access to the most effective contraceptives in expansion states. 

Report outlines missed opportunities for preventing congenital syphilis

A new CDC report outlines opportunities for detecting and preventing congenital syphilis, where the infection is passed on to an infant or fetus during pregnancy. The condition could lead to loss of pregnancy, or in infants who are born with it, can lead to lifelong neurological complications. In 2018, about half of congenital syphilis cases occurred due to gaps in testing, the report says, and is especially concerning because the condition has risen dramatically in recent years: Between 2013-2018, rates of congenital syphilis increased by more than 261% to more than 1,300 cases. The report says that, in 2018, 28% of cases were because of a lack of timely prenatal care, while 31% of cases were because pregnant women didn't get appropriate treatment despite a diagnosis. The report suggests syphilis testing at the first prenatal visit, with follow-ups at 28 weeks of pregnancy and at delivery to monitor for the infection. 

What to read around the web today

  • Thousands who got Covid-19 in March are still sick. The Atlantic
  • In hard-hit areas, Covid’s ripple effects strain mental health care systems. California Healthline
  • All this chaos might be giving you 'crisis fatigue'. Wired
  • Telehealth wasn't designed for non-English speakers. The Verge
  • Opinion: Physician advocacy against police brutality: #ThisIsOurLaneToo. STAT

Thanks for reading! Hope everyone gets some rest this weekend,


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Friday, June 5, 2020


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