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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Registration for the STAT 2021 Breakthrough Science Summit is now open. The event is all about the science that's on the cutting edge and over the course of two afternoons will take you inside the latest innovations, examining how they're being developed, adopted, and paid for. Learn more about the event here, and purchase tickets (STAT+ subscribers get 20% off) here.

In small trial, Covid-19 vaccine booster shot for organ transplant recipients increased antibodies

Organ transplant recipients and other immunocompromised people have been grappling with the uncertainty of how much protection they get against SARS-CoV-2 from the vaccines. A small new study suggests that organ transplant recipients who got a third shot of a Covid vaccine had higher antibody levels than from getting the two standard doses. The study included data from 30 organ transplant recipients, more than half of whom received a third shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine while the rest received Moderna. A quarter of those who had no detectable antibodies to Covid and all six who had low antibody levels had high antibody levels following the third shot, which was administered a median of 67 days after the second shot. The most common reaction was mild or moderate fatigue.

Vaccination rates for communities of color lag behind national goals

Vermont yesterday became the first U.S. state to have 80% of its eligible population receive at least one vaccine dose, even as data increasingly suggest that the U.S. as a whole is unlikely to meet the White House's goal of having 70% of adults get at least one dose by July 4. And a new study from Kaiser Family Foundation and Stanford finds that this goal is especially distant for some communities of color. The study estimates that at the current rate of vaccinations, 65% of those ages 12 and older will have gotten at least one Covid shot by July 4. While 70% of Asian individuals will reach the July 4 goal, the figure by then for Hispanic people will be 63% and 51% for Black individuals. At the current rate, the study also estimates that it will be end of July before Hispanic people reach the 70% goal, and after the beginning of September for Black people. 

Boston Children's once again earns top pediatric hospital honors

Boston Children’s Hospital has once again snagged the top spot for pediatric hospitals in the country, according to 2021 rankings from U.S. News and World Report. This marks the eighth consecutive year that the Boston hospital has earned high marks for the overall honor roll, having also earned a top five spot in nine of the 10 specialties — including pulmonology and neurology — that the report examined. Among the qualities that analysts graded hospitals on are patient safety, how well patients fare, and how pediatric specialists rank the hospital. Other notables on the list: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which was ranked the best for orthopedics, as well as Children's National Hospital, which was top in neonatology.

Inside STAT: Why two scientific powerhouses are teaming up to tackle rare cancers

The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and MD Anderson Cancer Center last month launched a collaborative effort to tackle rare cancers. The initiative aims to create a database of models for rare cancers — which are those conditions that have fewer than 40,000 new cases per year and limited availability of disease models — using patient samples collected at MD Anderson and developed using cell lines at the Broad. In a new story, STAT's Kevin Lin reports on the ideas behind the project, including how the brother of one researcher involved with the effort was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, for which there were few treatment options. “It was really a big slice of Swiss cheese with so many holes in it that it still needs a lot of work,”oncologist Vinod Ravi says of the research and available drugs for the rare cancer. Read more here.

Hospitals are not fully complying with new price transparency rule, study finds

A small study finds that a majority of hospitals are thus far not complying with a Trump administration rule on price transparency. Finalized in 2019 and in effect since January this year, the rule tasks hospitals with making public what they charge for common services such as X-rays. In the new analysis, scientists randomly sampled 100 hospitals as well as the 100 top-earning hospitals of 2017. Of the 100 random hospitals chosen, 83% were noncompliant with at least one of the requirements in the new rule. A little over half had a cost estimator tool, while all required patients to input personal health information to access the tool. The highest-earning hospitals performed slightly better: 75% were noncompliant with at least one requirement, while 86% offered a price estimator tool.

Proportion of minority pediatricians-in-training has remained unchanged in nearly 15 years

The proportion of underrepresented individuals entering the pediatrics field has remained the same for nearly 15 years, according to new research, in a trend that also means the field doesn't reflect the increasing diversity of the U.S. population. In 2007, 16% of pediatric residents were from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups — a figure that was almost identical in 2019 (the U.S. population in 2019 was nearly 40% non-white). At the same time, the study found that the proportion of pediatric fellows from minority backgrounds slightly declined over the same period, from around 14% in 2007 to 13.5% in 2019. This was especially true for some sub-specialties, including neonatal and perinatal care. 

Covid-19 in the U.S.

The case numbers and death toll from the pandemic in the U.S. have steadily fallen, and many states have moved away from reporting daily numbers. In light of this, we will now be sharing two-week trends in Covid cases and deaths from our Covid-19 Tracker

Average new cases yesterday: 15,163
Average deaths yesterday: 385

What to read around the web today

  • Pfizer, AstraZeneca … or both? A mixed approach may hold promise. The New York Times
  • For transgender people, finding mental health services that meet their needs is difficult. The 19th News
  • Scientists CRISPR patients' own immune cells in bid to shrink hard-to-treat GI tumors. STAT+
  • Panic attacks highlight stress at shelters for migrant kids. Associated Press
  • Some hospitals kept suing patients over medical debt through the pandemic. ProPublica
  • Health lobbyists fund their own policy analyses, clouding debates. STAT+

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

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