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Join STAT's Helen Branswell on Monday, April 13 as she chats with former CDC director Tom Frieden about Covid-19. Register and submit questions in advance here

Covid-19: Here's how projected fatalities compare to other causes of death

(Hyacinth Empinado/STAT)

Different models predicting the best- and worst-case scenarios of Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. range from 60,000 to a whopping 240,000. But how do these numbers compare to other common killers? The lower number is about on par with the number of people who died of stroke in 2017 (60,833), but the upper limit is still less than the more than 252,000 people who died of cancer last year. STAT's Sharon Begley and Hyacinth Empinado have more here

Here's more of what's happening with the outbreak: 
  • New data published by the CDC show that Covid-19 is not infecting groups of people equally, and that men and Black patients are more likely to be hospitalized for the infection. 
  • A new global clinical trial is using AI to quickly figure out which patients are most likely to benefit from possible therapies, including hydroxychloroquine, for their Covid-19 infection. 
  • Some biotech companies developing treatments are trying to target a receptor known as ACE-2 because coronaviruses seem to use it to enter human cells. 
  • As the November election approaches, Democratic groups are looking for ways to use the Trump administration's response to Covid-19 as a way to inform their own health messaging. 
  • Despite relaxed rules allowing those who take methadone to treat their opioid addiction to take home up to a 28-day supply, some methadone clinics still have waiting rooms crowded with patients hoping to get their prescription, thus putting them at risk of contracting Covid-19. 

Doctors worry unproven Covid-19 drug will do more harm than good

President Trump's firm stance of "What do you have to lose?" this week about taking hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19 stands in stark contrast to frontline physicians, who are concerned that the unproven drug may end up doing more harm than good. Physicians, who are trained to make recommendations based on good data, are finding it difficult to make a decision about the drug given the lack of evidence to fully support its use against Covid-19. Some doctors are not outright recommending against the drug's use, but are instead outlining to patients and their families the limited evidence available, and letting them make a decision. STAT contributor Allison Bond has more from San Francisco here

Millennials see a 300%-400% spike in hepatitis C cases over the past decade

New data from the CDC reveal that the annual rates of hepatitis C infection tripled between 2009-2018, and was highest among those in their 20s and 30s. In 2018, millennials and baby boomers made up more than two-thirds of all infected individuals. Those in their 20s experienced a 300% increase in HCV rates since 2009, while those in their 30s saw a 400% spike in cases. At the same time, only about 61% of HCV-positive individuals between 2015-2018 knew that they were infected. 

The CDC also issued new recommendations calling for universal hepatitis C screening: All individuals 18 and older should be tested for the infection at least once in their lifetime. Pregnant women should be tested once during each pregnancy, the agency said. 

Inside STAT: Scientists need to figure out which distancing measures best control Covid-19

In encouraging news, a new model of the Covid-19 pandemic from scientists at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington estimates that thanks to ongoing social distancing measures, the number of U.S. deaths by August will be around 60,415, a far cry from the 100,00 that the same group had previously predicted. But as health officials start thinking about slowly lifting some of the restrictions put in place — closing schools and nonessential businesses, banning international travel, and canceling other large gatherings — it's unclear which specific distancing measure has been most effective. Knowing this will help officials plan for which restrictions can be lifted, if any, but also help places with lower (thus far) transmission of the infection plan for possible surges. STAT's Sharon Begley has more here.  

Eye injuries from fireworks have halved since 1999

The number of eye injuries from fireworks has decreased 50% over the past 20 years, according to a new analysis of emergency room data. Here's what you need to know: 

  • The study: Researchers analyzed data from 1999-2017 from more than 100 emergency departments across the U.S. 
  • Overall findings: Nationally, the number of eye injuries went from a high of 3,000 in the year 2000 to around 1,500 such injuries in 2017. 
  • Injury trends: July of any given year — given the Fourth of July holiday — had the highest number of injuries, followed by January and December. Burns to the eyes were the most common type of injury. Among specified culprits, firecrackers were the most common reason for such injuries, followed by bottle rockets. 

Online streaming platforms in India don't include health warnings about tobacco despite mandate

In 2012, authorities in India mandated that movies and TV shows that depict substance use — cigarettes, alcohol, or illicit drugs — include warnings at the bottom of the screen to indicate that these were damaging to health. New research finds that shows on some online streaming platforms are not compliant. Researchers surveyed a group of youth in India's capital of New Delhi to determine the 10 most popular shows — eight of these were on Netflix, while the others were on Amazon Prime Video. Despite most shows including at least one scene depicting tobacco use or implying its use (with Amazon's "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" having the most such scenes), none of them provided on-screen warnings. Only 33 youth were surveyed about the shows they watched, but the authors emphasize that streaming platforms ought to be subject to the law in the same way as traditional media platforms.  

What to read around the web today

  • Faulty N95 masks hamper hospitals on coronavirus front line. The Wall Street Journal
  • Death cuts the degree of separation between you and Covid-19. Wired
  • Pharmacy workers are coming down with Covid-19. But they can’t afford to stop working. ProPublica
  • Checkpoints, curfews, airlifts: Virus rips through Navajo nation. The New York Times
  • Thousands of coronavirus tests are going unused in US labs. Nature

Thanks for reading this week! See you all on Monday,


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Friday, April 10, 2020


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