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My colleague Elizabeth Cooney is the author of our latest STAT Report, on nanotechnology in medicine. Check out a preview and get your own copy here

U.K. approves Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, putting pressure on FDA

The U.K. this morning became the first country to approve the Covid-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech, a move that likely puts pressure on the FDA to do the same. The vaccine is also the first to run through all the required studies before approval — although Russia and China have authorized Covid-19 vaccines, they were given the green light without Phase 3 clinical trial data. The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine showed in a large Phase 3 trial that it was more than 90% effective against symptomatic Covid-19 infection, though that data was put out in a press release and not a medical journal. The fact that a vaccine from a U.S. manufacturer — and a German company — is approved first outside the U.S. may further fuel tensions between the White House and the FDA, which is scheduled to convene a panel of experts to discuss this vaccine on Dec. 10. 

CDC advisory panel: Health workers, long-term care facilities should get Covid-19 vaccine first

An expert panel that advises the CDC voted 13-1 to recommend that health care providers and residents in long-term care facilities should be first in line to get a Covid-19 vaccine when one becomes available. Together, the two groups represent 24 million Americans. Health care workers have always been at the top of the list, and long-term care residents have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, with over 100,000 deaths in this population. State governments have to put in their orders for a Covid-19 vaccine by Friday, and yesterday's vote by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is meant to help officials decide how to allocate the first doses that will arrive.

Inside STAT: Covid-19 vaccines are a marvel of science. Here's how to make the best use of them


In spite of many odds — and with the staggering daily numbers in the U.S. — it seems the end of the Covid-19 pandemic may be in sight. With two Covid-19 vaccines awaiting FDA approval any day, there is a lot to be hopeful for. But if we’re not careful, we could fail to take full advantage of the opportunity now presented to us, STAT's Helen Branswell warns in a new special report. What will being careful look like? Helen spoke with more than two dozen public health experts, state officials, and others on how to make the most of Covid-19 vaccines, from planning a tightly choreographed rollout within two days of an FDA approval to overcoming mistrust. "It's absolutely extraordinary that vaccines for a pathogen we didn't know about a year ago will soon go into use," Helen tells me. But people have to prepare because "the rollout of the vaccines will be a messy process with scarce supply and different jurisdictions interpreting federal priority guidance in different ways." Read more here

White House to host Covid-19 vaccine summit

The Trump administration has invited leading vaccine manufacturers, drug distributors, and government officials to convene at the White House next week for a Covid-19 vaccine summit, STAT's Lev Facher reports. The Dec. 8 event will feature President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, several governors, and private-sector executives. Executives from Pfizer and Moderna, which have Covid-19 vaccines awaiting emergency use authorization from the FDA, have been invited, as have people from companies likely to be tasked with distribution and logistics, such as Walgreens and FedEx. Those familiar with the event see it as an opportunity for the administration to pressure the FDA to quickly approve the vaccines as well as to ensure that Trump receives credit for the unprecedented pace at which vaccines have been developed.

New report underscores how jobs influence Covid-19 risk to Black, Hispanic, and Native people

A new report from the nonprofit Urban Institute underscores the Covid-19 risk that Black, Hispanic, and Native people face as a result of their jobs. More than half the people from these communities work in jobs that have to be done in person or require being in close contact with others, the report estimates. The same is true only for 41% of white workers. The report also estimates that members of these groups, as well as Asian individuals, are more likely to use public transit to get to work, which could further expose them to the coronavirus. In addition, at least a quarter of Black, Hispanic, and Native individuals — and only 18% of white people — live in multigenerational households, which could increase exposure to and transmission of the virus. 

Cancer incidence among teens and young adults has increased by 30%

The rate of cancer in adolescents and young adults has increased by nearly 30% since 1973, according to new research. The study looked at trends in cancer incidence in those ages 15-39 from 1973-2015. There was a relative increase in carcinomas — cancers that originate in cells such as skin or tissue lining inner organs — while there was a decrease in other cancers such as leukemias and lymphomas. Among both males and females, kidney carcinoma and thyroid cancer were among those that saw the biggest increases in incidences. Breast cancer was the most common diagnosis among females, while testicular cancer was the most common diagnosis among males. 

What to read around the web today

  • CDC to shorten COVID-19 quarantine to 10 days, 7 with test. Associated Press
  • How a vibrating smartwatch could be used to stop nightmares. Wired
  • Meet the scientists investigating the origins of the COVID pandemic. Nature
  • North Korean hackers are said to have targeted companies working on Covid-19 vaccines. The Wall Street Journal
  • Pandemic patient with swastika tattoo leaves Nor Cal doctor questioning his compassion. San Francisco Chronicle

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Wednesday, December 2, 2020


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