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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Detailed data on AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 vaccine show it has moderate efficacy

Data from four clinical trials reveal that the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University is moderately effective in preventing symptomatic illness and could help significantly reduce hospitalizations in infected people. The new data, which pooled information from trials in different phases and included safety data from more than 20,000 participants, show that two standard doses of the vaccine were 62% effective against the onset of symptomatic Covid-19 in some trials. When efficacy data from all four trials — more than 11,600 participants — were pooled, that figure jumped up to 70%. The company is submitting data from its trials on a rolling basis to regulatory agencies, but expects that the FDA will require the U.S. arm of the trial to be complete before asking for emergency use authorization. 

In speech, Biden emphasizes Covid-19 priorities of masks, vaccinations, and opening schools

President-elect Biden iterated yesterday a trio of priorities for his Covid-19 response once he assumes office next month: "Masking. Vaccinations. Opening schools." During a speech in Wilmington, Del., to introduce his health team, Biden pledged to have at least 100 million Covid-19 vaccine shots administered within his first 100 days, although it's unclear whether he meant 100 million shots — and therefore 50 million people who would get both doses of a vaccine — or 100 million people. Biden repeated his intention of implementing a mask mandate where he can, including federal buildings and for interstate travel through planes and buses. Finally, Biden pledged to have the majority of schools open within the first 100 days, pending funding from Congress to protect those in schools and if cities follow recommended public health steps. 

Flu activity in November is lower than last year's, according to Walgreens data

We're squarely in flu season in the Northern Hemisphere, and newly released data from Walgreens finds that, overall, flu activity in the U.S. in November was lower than it was at the same time last year. These initial findings — based on patterns in antiviral medication from Walgreen stores — are encouraging as experts have been concerned about a double whammy of Covid-19 and the flu overwhelming hospitals. At the same time, there are places in the U.S. where flu is really taking hold. Several communities in Texas, for instance, are seeing high levels of flu, and Texas and other states in the South and Midwest — including New Mexico, Nevada and Arkansas — are thus far topping the list of places with the most flu activity in the same way they did last season.

Inside STAT: Grief in the Covid era will weigh on the American psyche for years to come


As the U.S. continues adding to its Covid-19 casualty count — already the equivalent of five Vietnam Wars — one thing that has not changed since the start of the pandemic is people's inability to come together to grieve. Funerals and other mourning rituals have been put on hold. Farewells through FaceTime or Zoom have done little to stave off the loneliness that people have felt in the face of a loss. Experts are now worried about the long-term impact of this lack of communal grieving on the mental and physical health of people. Research has shown negative cardiovascular effects as well as a higher risk of depression and substance use if people aren't able to process their grief. STAT contributor Todd Purdum has more here

Health workers in the U.K. are seven times likelier to get severe Covid-19

Health care workers in the U.K. are seven times likelier to fall ill with severe Covid-19 than the rest of the population, according to a large new study. Researchers compared data from more than 120,000 middle-aged essential and nonessential employees, and found that despite only making up about 10% of the sample, health care workers were seven times likelier to have severe Covid-19. Other essential workers such as transportation workers and social care workers were at least twice as likely to have severe infection. At the same time, non-white nonessential workers had an elevated risk for severe Covid-19 that was similar to white essential workers. And Black and Asian nonessential workers were at three times more likely to get severe infection than white workers with nonessential jobs.

Direct-to-consumer telemedicine seems to attract younger, wealthier patients

Direct-to-consumer telemedicine — where people use an app or website to indicate their ailment, have a provider review their intake form, and send a prescription to a pharmacy — is growing in popularity. And a new study of more than 35,000 such visits finds that those who use DTC telemedicine are younger, tend to live in wealthy areas, and are far more likely to use these services for help with urogenital conditions. UTIs, erectile dysfunction, and contraception accounted for 87% of all the DTC visits, compared to only 2.3% of visits with primary care providers among the general population in that area. Nearly two-thirds of DTC visits also took place outside usual business hours. One caveat: The findings are based on data from a single DTC telemedicine provider. 

Covid-19 in the U.S.

Cases yesterday: 215,860
Deaths yesterday: 2,546

What to read around the web today

  • ‘Why would we ever go back?’: Covid-driven shift to remote cancer clinical trials will likely outlast the pandemic. STAT+
  • Volleyball star Hayley Hodson had it all, until blows to her head changed everything. Los Angeles Times
  • McKinsey issues a rare apology for its role in OxyContin sales. The New York Times
  • ‘I just white-knuckle it’: Hemophilia patients pin their hopes on the revival of Vioxx to fill a void in pain relief. STAT+
  • Experts push for new cancer drug dosing recommendations. Undark

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Wednesday, December 9, 2020


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