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Morning Rounds Elizabeth Cooney

Pfizer and BioNTech say vaccine prevents Covid-19 in adolescents

Pfizer and BioNTech said this morning that their Covid-19 vaccine prevented symptomatic disease and was well-tolerated in a Phase 3 study of 2,260 adolescents aged 12-15 who were randomly assigned to receive two doses of the vaccine or placebo. There were 18 cases of Covid-19 among patients who received placebo and none in those who received the vaccine, the companies said. The data will now be submitted to the FDA as an amendment to the vaccine's emergency use authorization for people 16 and up, in addition to other regulators around the world. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a press release that the companies hope it will be possible to begin vaccinating adolescents in this age group before the start of the next school year. STAT's Matthew Herper has more.

Type 1 diabetes joins type 2 on the CDC’s vaccine priority list

Following months of disbelief from patients and pushback from advocacy groups, the CDC has now classified type 1 and type 2 diabetes together on its recommended priority list for Covid-19 vaccine. Previously, as I wrote in this January story, the guidelines grouped people with type 1 (but not type 2) diabetes with everyone under age 65, despite research showing they are at just as high risk of dying from Covid-19 as those with type 2, if not higher. At the time, the CDC said the evidence of risk was not as clear for type 1 as type 2. When asked about the change, CDC spokesperson Jade Fulce said yesterday, “For easier accessibility and clarity, the former two-tiered list (no longer divided into "increased risk" and "might be at increased risk" categories) has been modified into one risk category list.”

WHO team asks for patience on Covid origin study

Earlier this week an international team’s long-awaited study on the possible origins of Covid-19 was met with doubt and dismay. Now that team is calling it just a “first start,” the U.S. and allies are expressing concerns about the findings, and China is trumpeting its cooperation, the Associated Press reports. The study said transmission of the virus from bats to humans through another animal was the most likely scenario and that a lab leak is “extremely unlikely.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the WHO report “lacks crucial data, information ... It lacks access. It lacks transparency."  In a joint statement by 14 countries, the State Department said they were calling for “momentum” for a second-phase look. “This is a work in progress," WHO team leader Peter Ben Embarek said, "and we all have to be patient.”

Inside STAT: This late in the pandemic, loved ones feel the anguish of Covid-19 deaths particularly hard

Tony Murray (left) and Mark Collins. (COURTESY MARK COLLINS)

Mark Collins received his Covid-19 vaccine earlier this year through work. His husband, Tony Murray — his partner of 25 years, his co-host for front yard barbecues, his accomplice for getaways to Las Vegas and Atlantic City — had not yet gotten his. And then, Murray died on March 16. His death was another tally in the nation’s confirmed Covid-19 death toll of more than 550,000 — one that is still growing by 1,000 every day. Each has been a tragedy in its own right, but with vaccines rolling out, the grief of losing loved ones now is shaded by the anguish that they made it through so much of the pandemic and were so close to being protected. STAT's Andrew Joseph has more.

Certain inflammatory diseases linked to fatal heart attacks under 50

Fatal heart attacks in people under 50 occur more than twice as often in people who have systemic inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus compared to people who don’t, new research concludes. It’s already known that people with these autoimmune diseases — more common in women than men — are at higher risk of heart disease. What hasn’t been known is what happens among younger people having heart attacks, a group that has not seen death rates decline as much as older people, especially young women. Study participants matched for risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, or high cholesterol were more than twice as likely to die of a heart attack if they had an inflammatory disease.

Fighting shark attacks with technology

Some of us who live in colder climates think longingly about trips to the beach becoming safe again as more of us get our Covid-19 vaccination. Some of us also think about sharks in those inviting ocean waters. A new study from Australia analyzed a solution. While sharks biting people are rare occurrences (less than 1 per million people per year), they are increasing. Just over half are in the U.S., rising by about one bite per year since 1982, followed by Australia. The researchers modeled how well shark deterrents using electric fields (here are five examples on the market, from bracelets to surfboard attachments) might work to reduce shark bites, and concluded that a thousand lives could be saved by the devices over the next half-century.

Covid-19 cases in the U.S.

Cases yesterday: 61,240
Deaths yesterday
: 875

What to read around the web today

  • California sheriff overruled health official, linked man’s death to vaccine. Sacramento Bee
  • ‘Mom is really different’: Nursing homes reopen to joy and grief. New York Times
  • FTC seeks to block Illumina from buying Grail, citing threats to competition. STAT+
  • Durango’s Covid ‘Cowboy’ rounds up spring break scofflaws, lines ’em up for shots. KHN
  • Most U.S. universities get an ‘F’ on ensuring access to drugs they discover. STAT+

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

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