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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Today is the final day to nominate an early-career scientist for our STAT Wunderkinds contest, which celebrates young researchers and their accomplishments. Fill out the nomination form here

Medical nonprofits forced to scale back as the pandemic upends fundraising

Among the many organizations taking a hit as a result of Covid-19 are medical nonprofits, which have traditionally relied on in-person galas and black-tie events to raise money for their research efforts. For instance, JDRF, the type 1 diabetes foundation, announced that it had fallen short of its expected revenue by 40%, and would therefore be cutting 40% of its staff, consolidating regional chapters, and reducing or ending some of its grant programs. But the pandemic is taking a toll on the nonprofit industry as a whole: Small donations are becoming rarer as people deal with job loss, and bigger donors are funneling funds to the Covid-19 response. But if the current trends keep up, it could spell trouble for the future of medical research, since much of it is funded by nonprofit organizations. STAT's Rebecca Robbins has more here.  

Here's what else is happening with Covid-19: 

  • Top infectious disease physician Anthony Fauci, assistant health secretary Brett Giroir, and CDC Director Robert Redfield are back in the hot seat today as they face a House subcommittee to talk about the U.S. response to Covid-19, including plans for obtaining the resources necessary to address shortages in medical supplies and delays in testing. 
  • Children younger than 5 years old who are infected with SARS-CoV-2 can have as much virus in their nose and throat as infected adults, according to a new study. Kids could have between 10 to 100 times more virus in their upper respiratory tracts than adults with Covid-19, although the data don't necessarily show that kids are passing on the virus to others around them. 
  • A small survey from health technology company DrFirst finds that roughly 40% of Americans have turned to home remedies in an effort to avoid the emergency room or a trip to the doctor during the pandemic. Many of these treatments have been common over-the-counter options such as muscle relief balm and readily available splints or braces, but around 1 in 4 reported using essential oils or homeopathic remedies. 

American Cancer Society updates cervical cancer screening guidelines

The American Cancer Society just updated its guidelines for cervical cancer screening. Those with a cervix should begin regular screenings for cancer at age 25, which moves back the 2012 recommendation of screenings starting at age 21. At the same time, the new guidelines suggest that individuals with a cervix be tested for HPV — which causes almost all cases of cervical cancer — every five years starting at 25 years of age (the previous guidelines had recommended these tests at age 30 on). The guidelines also recommend HPV testing without an accompanying Pap test as HPV tests are more accurate and can be done less frequently. Not all facilities have made the switch to HPV testing alone and so a standalone Pap test every 3 years or a combination of the tests every 5 years is acceptable for now, the ACS says. 

Examining gender differences among ear, nose and throat specialists

Female otolaryngologists — ear, nose, and throat specialists — are less likely to provide a variety of services within their specialty, according to new research. Scientists looked at 2017 Medicare data for nearly 8,500 physicians in this specialty, and found that female otolaryngologists were less likely to bill Medicare for a range of unique services than their male peers and also provided fewer services, especially in non-hospital settings. Women also received an average of $30,000 less in Medicare payments than their male colleagues. Although the study didn't examine the reasons behind these disparities, the authors suggest that persistent wage gaps even among those who perform the same number of services in otolaryngology could mean that women are performing services with less money associated with them. 

Inside STAT: The drug industry’s new tactic in Washington: calling Trump’s bluff 


(ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES)

After four years of public sparring between the pharmaceutical industry and President Trump over drug pricing, industry executives took a bold step this week by defiantly skipping a meeting with Trump. The president had insisted last week that drug makers were eager to strike a deal with the administration in light of its tough talk on drug pricing. Experts say the move reflects how the industry has little to gain and much more to lose in negotiating with the White House. “Pharmaceutical executives have realized that giving the president any type of photo opportunity does not preclude him turning around and stabbing them in the back,” Peter Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, tells STAT's Lev Facher and Nicholas Florko. STAT Plus subscribers can read more here

Southeast Asian countries make progress on hepatitis B vaccination

Countries in Southeast Asia have made a lot of progress toward introducing regular immunization against hepatitis B, according to new CDC data. The virus is most often transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, and can cause both acute and chronic disease in the liver. The report found that by 2016, all 11 countries in the WHO's Southeast Asia region had introduced a hepatitis B vaccine into their national immunization programs. Coverage rates for the dose of the vaccine administered at birth increased from 34% to 54% between 2016 - 2019, while coverage rates for the third dose of the vaccine (the WHO recommends a total of three doses) increased from 89% to 91%. And four countries, including Bangladesh and Thailand, achieved vaccination rates by the end of last year to meet the WHO's 2020 goal for hepatitis B control. 

Infant mortality is highest among babies born to teens

Teen mothers ages 15-17 had the highest rate of infant mortality, according to a new CDC report. The report, which looked at data between 2017-2018, found that the infant mortality rate in this age group was around 9 deaths per 1,000 live births, which was almost twice the rate of infant mortality in women ages 30-34 (who had the lowest infant mortality rates). Black teens who gave birth experienced the highest infant mortality rates — more than 12 deaths per 1,000 live births — compared to other races. Infants born to Black teens were also more likely to die from any of the top five leading causes of infant deaths, including disorders related to low birthweight. The only exception was deaths from SIDS, which was highest among infants born to white mothers in their teens. 

What to read around the web today

  • “It cost me everything”: In Texas, Covid-19 takes a devastating toll on Hispanic residents. ProPublica
  • Netflix’s wellness programming is irresponsible and misleading. Vice
  • Brigham president resigns from Moderna board after conflict of interest questions raised. The Boston Globe
  • Virus testing turnaround times reveal wide disparity. Associated Press
  • Should virus-naming rules change during a pandemic? The question divides virologists. Nature

Thanks for reading — and Eid Mubarak to those celebrating Eid al-Adha today! See you on Monday, 

Shraddha

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Friday, July 31, 2020

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