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Morning Rounds Elizabeth Cooney

Some older adults missing out on Covid vaccine

Older Americans may be first in line for Covid-19 vaccination, but that doesn’t mean they’ll get theirs. Some older people may not even know they’re eligible, or if they do, they don’t have the equipment or the savvy to go online and sign up for an appointment. “I thought it would be a priority when you’re 88 years old and that someone would inform me,” Jean Andrade of Portland, Ore., who does not have family members to help her, tells the Associated Press. “I’ve still got my brain, thank God. But I am very angry.” To counter the disparity in access, the Biden administration said Wednesday that it will partner with health insurance companies to contact Medicare recipients with information about vaccines and to help coordinate appointments and transportation.

Few cases of inflammatory heart disease recorded in athletes after Covid-19 infection

It’s alarming to hear about post-Covid heart damage in young people presumably at the top of their chosen games. A new study analyzing the heart health of professional athletes returning to play after Covid-19 infection concludes that only 5 of 789 players had signs of inflammatory heart disease. None of the North American football, soccer, basketball, or hockey players had severe Covid and 329 had few or no symptoms, but blood tests for markers of heart muscle damage, EKGs, and echocardiograms were abnormal in 30 players, 5 of whom had inflammation that showed up on follow-up cardiac MRIs. They all eventually safely returned to play. These results differ from earlier MRI-based reports, which the authors say may mean cardiac MRIs work better downstream than as a screening tool.

Covid-19 vaccine acceptance is climbing, global survey says

People’s confidence in Covid-19 vaccination is growing, a new survey conducted in mid-February in 14 countries finds, but in some places resistance continues, and in others concerns about adequate supply are surfacing. More than half of the 13,500 respondents said they would get the vaccine if offered, an increase from November recorded in nine countries. Three-quarters of people in the U.K. are on board, but just under half in France, Singapore, and Japan, in what still represents a rising level of vaccine acceptance. Worry over side effects showed a similar split: One-quarter of U.K. respondents are concerned compared with 6 in 10 in France, Singapore, and Japan. In Israel two-thirds of people said access would be easy, compared with one-third in Germany, France, and Canada.

Inside STAT: Whitehead director's reminder on vaccines: 'It was basic science, right?'

Ruth Lehmann became director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in July 2020. (LANE TURNER/THE BOSTON GLOBE)

Ruth Lehmann became director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in July when it was gradually reopening after a March 20 shutdown, but the center affiliated with nearby MIT is still adapting to life with Covid-19. About 80% of scientists have returned to their labs to work in socially distanced shifts, administrative staff mostly work from home, and Lehmann misses the creative sparks that come from just running into colleagues. A noted cell biologist who moved her lab from New York University to Cambridge, Mass., Lehmann celebrates basic science as the driving force behind the extraordinary advances leading to rapidly developed Covid-19 vaccines. “People want solutions,” she told me. “It was basic science, right?” Read more.

Collagen looks protective in pancreatic cancer, study overturning dogma says

The experiments were just in mice, but collagen appears protective against pancreatic cancer, an aggressive malignancy that usually has poor outcomes for patients. Collagen, commonly found in bone, tendons, and skin, has been considered a problem when it appears in tumors, thought to form a stiff barrier for cancer drugs to overcome and to impede certain immune cells. But researchers report a different role for the protein when it accumulates in the microenvironment surrounding pancreatic tumors. When they removed the fibroblasts that produce collagen, anti-tumor immune response dropped and the cancer grew more rapidly. It’s a long way between mouse models of cancer and people, but the work provides a target for further research and potential therapeutics.

Triage by Dr. Spot


Talk about social distancing. In a small study conducted at a Boston hospital during the first Covid-19 surge, most emergency room patients accepted a dog-like robot carrying an iPad over which a clinician questioned them about their symptoms via video connection. The patients had been approached in the waiting room beforehand; 41 of 51 were willing to answer questions via "Dr. Spot." That in itself may be surprising, but the researchers got favorable responses when they previously tested this teletriage idea in a national survey. Thirty-three of 40 actual patients said they were satisfied with how it went. “For the purposes of gathering quick triage information, the patients found the experience to be similar to what they would have experienced talking to a person,” study author and emergency physician Peter Chai said in a statement.

Covid-19 cases in the U.S.

Cases yesterday: 67,164
Deaths yesterday: 1,903

What to read around the web today

  • FDA releases a new plan to bring its data skills up to speed. STAT+
  • OSHA’s job is workplace safety. In the Covid-19 pandemic, it often struggled. Wall Street Journal
  • CDC delays guidelines for vaccinated people. Politico
  • Miscarriage is hard enough — spending thousands in hidden costs rubs salt in would-be parents' wounds.
  • Children with Covid-19 often experience kidney injuries, doctors report. New York Times

Thanks for reading! More Monday,

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