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White House aims to give 70% of American adults at least one vaccine dose by July 4

The Biden administration has a new goal of ensuring 70% of people in the U.S. have at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose by July 4. The announcement comes as the U.S. vaccination rate has dropped dramatically in recent weeks: In mid-April, the country was administering about 3.4 million doses daily, but yesterday, that figure was 2.3 million. To reach its goal, the White House said it would expand walk-up appointments at pharmacies and vaccination sites, increase the availability of mobile vaccination clinics, and invest in a wider campaign to boost vaccine confidence. The White House also said that vaccine doses that go unordered by states will instead go to other states where demand is higher.  

U.S. birth rate declines for sixth straight year

The birth rate in the U.S. declined in 2020, for the sixth consecutive year, according to new CDC data. Here's more: 

  • Overall trends: More than 3.6 million babies were born in the U.S. in 2020, a 4% dip from 2019. The birth rate has gone down by an average of 2% every year since 2014, and last year was the lowest since 1979. 
  • Trends by race: There was a decline in births across all races last year, ranging from a 3% decline in babies born to Hispanic women to an 8% dip in babies born to Asian women. 
  • Trends by age: Although there was a decline across most age groups, teens ages 15-19 saw the biggest decline, of 8%. The birth rate of those ages 45-49 was unchanged, as it has been since 2015. 
  • The trend in New York City: More NYC residents went out of town to give birth last year than in 2019, a trend that overlapped with the Covid-19 pandemic's start in the U.S. NYC was also the epicenter of the crisis in the U.S., which may explain the findings. 

Adolescents have been reporting more concussions in recent years

Concussions among adolescents have increased in recent years, according to new research. Scientists used 2016-2020 data from eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders who responded to school-based surveys. Nearly 1 in 5 of these students reported having had at least one concussion in 2016 but that number increased to nearly 1 in 4 four years later. The incidence of exactly one concussion and two or more concussions also increased. Researchers observed an increase in self-reported concussions across sexes, races, and across other demographics, including among those who participated in competitive sports. Although these findings are subject to recall bias, researchers point to how increased awareness of concussions among the U.S. public may be a factor behind the increase in self-reporting.

Inside STAT: The editor of digital health’s newest journal wants to democratize medicine with data


Leo Anthony Celi is the new editor of PLoS Digital Health. 

The nonprofit publisher Public Library of Science recently announced the launch of a new roster of journals, including PLOS Digital Health, and Boston-based ICU physician Leo Anthony Celi has been named its editor-in-chief. Celi has been a prominent advocate for transparency and data sharing in medical research, including by organizing hackathons and maintaining a free-to-scientists database of real-world medical data. STAT's Katie Palmer spoke to Celi about his new role, including PLOS' goals in launching the new journal and the roadblocks to ensuring open-access clinical databases with information from a diverse set of patients. Read their conversation here

New report emphasizes investing in midwifery services

The world is currently facing a shortage of 900,000 midwives, according to the latest State of the World's Midwifery report from the WHO and other partner agencies. Covid-19 has further exacerbated the situation, the report says, as services for women and children have already been disrupted by the pandemic. The report, which analyzed data from 194 countries, iterates a December 2020 report's findings that fully funding midwifery services — including better education and  training — in the next 15 years could avert 67% of maternal deaths, 64% of newborn deaths, and 67% of stillbirths. Overall, it could save more than 4 million lives yearly.

Wholesale drug price increases affect half of commercially insured patients

A new study finds that, contrary to pharma's claims, increase in brand-name drug prices can result in increased out-of-pocket costs for about half of commercially insured patients. Pharma companies have long claimed that wholesale drug prices do not accurately reflect the ultimate price that a patient may pay. In the new study, researchers looked at pricing data for 79 brand-name drugs between 2015-2020, and found that, on average, their list price increased by nearly 17%. And although out-of-pocket spending increased by around 3.5%, this varied by patients' insurance type. Those patients who had fixed copayments — about half of consumers — were largely unaffected by price increases, but the out-of-pocket spending for the rest, those with deductibles and co-insurance, rose by 15%. 

Covid-19 in the U.S.

Cases yesterday: 40,733
Deaths yesterday: 933

What to read around the web today

  • Then a hacker began posting patients’ deepest secrets online. Wired
  • Gasping for breath: Women provide a glimpse into India’s Covid disaster. The Fuller Project
  • The coronavirus vaccine skeptics who changed their minds. The Washington Post
  • Persuading the body to regenerate limbs. The New Yorker
  • Elizabeth Holmes makes first courtroom appearance in over a year. The Wall Street Journal

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

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