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CEPI to fund expansion of mix-and-match Covid vaccine study

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations will provide roughly $7 million in new funding to expand a University of Oxford study to identify how well a mix-and-match approach to Covid-19 vaccines will work. Specifically, the study is examining the efficacy of a regimen that uses the Moderna and Novavax vaccines — both of which will be distributed through the global initiative known as COVAX. The study will compare whether a vaccine schedule that employs one dose of each vaccine in a two-dose regimen, which may be necessary to keep up with global demand, is better than the gold standard of delivering both doses from the same vaccine maker. 

USPTF issues new recommendation for healthy pregnancy weight gain

In a new move, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is recommending that health care providers suggest behavioral changes to pregnant people to gain weight healthily during pregnancy. The expert panel said that excess weight gain during pregnancy, which is on the rise, has been associated with adverse outcomes during pregnancy and in infants. Their recommendation, published in a series of papers in JAMA, says prenatal care providers should talk to patients about nutrition, physical activity, and other behavioral choices that can encourage healthy weight gain during pregnancy. The guidance is based on an analysis which also found that behavioral interventions also reduced the risk of gestational diabetes and the need for emergency C-sections.

Inside STAT: Rural Black communities lose a lifeline in the Covid-19 pandemic


Latasha Taylor visits the cemetery where her mother, uncle, and aunt are buried, in Dawson, Ga. (Bethany Mollenkof)

It's a problem playing out across much of the U.S.: The shuttering of rural hospitals has acutely disadvantaged the surrounding areas, and especially communities of color. That was the case for the Taylor family in southwest Georgia, where the closest health center stopped accepting Covid patients early on in the pandemic. When members of the family fell ill, they were left wondering whether their symptoms were bad enough to make the trek to a far-off hospital, and three ultimately passed away. And while it's difficult to draw a straight line between the closing of the local hospital to the Taylor family deaths and others in the area, data show that that in the two counties that depended on the hospital, 1 in every 200 people has died from Covid-19, a death rate 2.8 times higher than in Georgia as a whole. STAT's Olivia Goldhill has the full story, with photos from STAT's Bethany Mollenkof, here

New report details the history of tobacco marketing to women and young girls

A new report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids outlines the long history of the tobacco's industry marketing to women and girls. For instance, a 1920s ad for Lucky Strike cigarettes urged women to reach for one of their cigarettes instead of dessert, branding Lucky Strikes as a diet aid — a strategy that led to a more than 300% increase in the brand’s sales in the first year of that campaign. That kind of influence continues today, the report says, such as the availability of "designer cigarettes" and "purse packs" for smaller handbags. The report also states that for the first time, women are as likely to die from smoking-related diseases — such as lung cancer and cardiovascular disease — as men.  

A new tool tracks health disparities in the US — and highlights major data gaps

A coalition of researchers and advocates from Google, Gilead, and Morehouse School of Medicine just launched the Health Equity Tracker, a portal that collects, analyzes, and makes visible data to illustrate the health disparities that are a mainstay of medicine in the U.S. The Covid-19 pandemic has especially highlighted these disparities. But it has also shown that data on race and ethnicity are inconsistently reported — 38% of federally-collected Covid-19 cases don't specify race and ethnicity. The coalition's hope is that even after the pandemic, the tool can highlight the medical problems plaguing the U.S. to help community health leaders make informed policy decisions about other health crises. Read more here

Coal miners are at high risk of mental distress, study finds

With a high rate of work-related health complications and limited access to health care, coal miners in the U.S. are among the most susceptible to mental distress, and a new study finds that nearly 40% of these workers reported symptoms consistent with major depressive disorder and anxiety. The study looked at data from more than 2,800 coal miners who visited a black lung clinic in Virginia between 2018-2020. More than 1 in 10 in the study reported actively thinking about suicide, while nearly a quarter also had symptoms that suggested a PTSD diagnosis — and both rates exceeded the rates of these conditions in more general U.S. populations. 

Covid-19 in the U.S.

Cases yesterday: 22,756
Deaths yesterday: 621

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

  • What deadline? Most clinical trials are still not reported on time to federal database. STAT+
  • In California, nursing home owners can operate after they're denied a license. NPR
  • The truth about deinstitutionalization. The Atlantic
  • What the science says about lifting mask mandates. Nature
  • Traumatised, burnt out & depressed — the silent crisis of Indian doctors in the second wave. The Print
  • A discussion on health disparities in colorectal cancer with Dr. Fola May. STAT+

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

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