Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

WHO launches independent review of the international response to the Covid-19 pandemic

The WHO is conducting an independent review of the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the agency announced yesterday. Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former prime minister of New Zealand Helen Clark will lead the review, which the WHO's member states asked for earlier this year. The panel conducting the review is expected to provide an interim report in November, with a more comprehensive report to be presented at the World Health Assembly's scheduled meeting next May. “This is a time for self-reflection, to look at the world we live in and to find ways to strengthen our collaboration as we work together to save lives and bring this pandemic under control,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. 

Here's what else is happening with the pandemic: 

  • The U.S. has continued to set daily Covid-19 case records in six of the last ten days. States that opened the earliest — such as South Carolina and Georgia — are seeing the biggest jumps in cases, although there are exceptions, such as California. As of this morning, there are more than 3.1 million Covid-19 cases in the U.S. and nearly 133,300 deaths. 
  • Stress cardiomyopathy, sometimes known as "broken heart syndrome," may have increased in recent months due to the pandemic, new research in a small group of patients suggests. Data from two hospitals in Ohio show that 20 patients — an incidence rate of almost 8% — were diagnosed with the condition between March and April this year compared to last year, when the incidence was less than 2%. 
  • Following an open letter from more than 200 scientists earlier this week outlining evidence that transmission of SARS-CoV-2 could be airborne, the WHO yesterday acknowledged that the virus could be spread by smaller droplets or aerosols emitted while singing, shouting, or talking. Still, the agency maintained that much of the transmission seems to be through larger droplets that are coughed or inhaled. 

Medical, doctoral students from abroad grapple with uncertainty following new ICE rules

New rules announced by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement this week have plunged the future of many medical and doctoral students from abroad into uncertainty. Students will have to leave the country if their schools have opted for online-only classes in the fall, the agency said, a move that is likely to affect many of the nearly 1 million international students in the U.S. The backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic adds another layer of difficulty to an already tough situation, as some students may not be able to get back to their home countries easily. Meingold Chan, a doctoral candidate in developmental psychology at Ohio State University, has spoken out about the new security law in her home of Hong Kong and worries that going back could mean a prison sentence. But with the new ICE rules here, "I feel like I am not welcome as an immigrant,” she tells me. Read the full story

ACA expanded insurance among college students

The Affordable Care Act cut uninsurance rates among college students ages 18-34 by half, according to a new report from the nonprofit The Century Foundation. Health insurance coverage among college students aged increased by 10 percentage points — which cut the rate of uninsurance from nearly 30% in 2010 down to 14%. The share of students enrolled in Medicaid coverage and employer-sponsored health insurance also increased, the report found. The ACA especially helped students of color: 69% of Hispanic students had health insurance prior to the ACA, but that jumped to 85% in 2018. 

Inside STAT: Transfusing blood from active mice into sedentary ones to study exercise and aging


The latest in a series of "young blood" experiments — where blood from younger subjects is transfused into older subjects in an effort to stall aging and related diseases — has found that a single protein found in the liver may explain why exercise may help restore some of the effects of aging in the brain. Prior to a transfusion, sedentary mice had trouble finding a platform hidden in water compared to more active mice. But after getting a transfusion of blood from younger, more active mice, the sedentary mice were able to find the platform just as well. And higher level of the liver protein — called GPLD1 — corresponded with higher cognitive function in the mice. Read more from STAT's Theresa Gaffney here

Majority of states saw decline in teen births in 2018

Building on data released last fall, the CDC just shared new numbers on the dip in teen births between 2017-2018. During that year, the rate of teen births in the U.S. dropped by 7%, from around 19 births per 1,000 females aged 15-19 in 2017 to around 17 births per 1,000 in that group. The new data map where around the U.S. saw a fall in teen births: 38 out of the 50 states saw decreases, while eight additional states and D.C. saw nonsignificant declines. North Dakota, Rhode Island, and South Carolina were the only states that saw an increase, while there wasn't a significant change in the rate of these births in New Jersey. 

Emergency departments are seeing fewer sports-related TBI visits

There has been a smaller proportion of kids going to the emergency department for sports-related traumatic brain injuries, according to new CDC data. Between 2012-2018, the rate of visits to EDs for sports-related TBIs in those younger than 17 declined by 27%, largely because the rate of such visits from contact sports declined by 32%. Among those who visited EDs for TBIs from contact sports in 2018, nearly three-quarters were for injuries sustained while playing because of football, followed by basketball and soccer. And although sports-related TBIs increased among both males and females between 2001-2012, the rate has dropped by more than 30% in both groups since. 

What to read around the web today

  • A new tool aims to help patients sort through 200 mental health apps — and counting. STAT Plus
  • Schools or bars? Opening classrooms may mean hard choices. Associated Press
  • Homelessness has spread beyond major Bay Area cities. Covid-19 is making it even more visible. San Francisco Chronicle
  • These scientists raced to find a Covid-19 drug. Then the virus found them. The New York Times
  • California's San Quentin prison declined free coronavirus tests and urgent advice — now it has a massive outbreak. Nature

Thanks for reading! See you next week, 


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Friday, July 10, 2020


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