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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

AHA pens letter to HHS lamenting slow vaccine rollout

The American Hospital Association sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar yesterday bemoaning the lack of a national, coordinated effort to ensure a timely and effective vaccination campaign. For instance, the letter asks if the federal agency has evaluated the 64 different vaccination plans developed by states and jurisdictions across the U.S., and whether these plans can help achieve what's necessary for herd immunity. The letter also urges more support to hospitals as they try to handle the vaccine rollout while also dealing with escalating Covid-19 case numbers. “It is unclear who is responsible for answering questions,” the letter said.

Nearly 100 medical and research groups call for removing restrictions on fetal tissue research

A coalition of nearly 100 medical organizations, research institutions, and nonprofits is urging President-elect Biden to reverse the restrictions on fetal tissue research that were put in place by the Trump administration in 2019. The current policy bans research using human fetal tissue within the NIH and places restrictions on organizations outside the NIH. The restrictions didn’t affect the cell line that was used for Covid-19 research, the letter — which was co-signed by the International Society for Stem Cell Research and others — states, and argues that keeping the current policy in place could affect therapies and cures for other life-threatening diseases including Parkinson’s and ALS. 

How parents’ prescription opioid use influences kids’ misuse of these drugs 

Parents’ misuse of prescription opioids was not associated with their adolescent kids also misusing these drugs, according to new research. However, the study — which looked at data from 15,200 parent-child pairs who responded to a survey between 2015-2017 — found several other factors that could influence whether teens misuse prescription opioids. For instance, kids of parents who use marijuana, those who reported conflict with their parents, and those who reported depression were likely to misuse prescription opioid drugs. One caveat: The study did find that kids were more likely to misuse opioids when their parents took them as prescribed, prompting the authors to suggest that parents ought to be better educated on the risks of having these drugs at home. 

Inside STAT: When a psych bed search proves difficult, these patients have a partner


A recent program in Massachusetts to help patients needing inpatient psychiatric care is already making inroads, and could become a model for other places around the U.S. The state-funded effort — called Expedited Psychiatric Inpatient Admissions — relies on a small team of searchers to find inpatient beds, and the system requires hospitals to expedite placements for patients who have boarded in an ER for 60 hours. The team then works with emergency services across the state to clear any barriers to get patients into inpatient beds, even if it sometimes means top officials making personal calls. “It’s a supreme form of advocacy,” one member of such a team tells STAT contributor Roger Rappaport, who has more

Researchers who publish in Cell will have the option of including diversity data

A new pilot policy from the Cell group of journals will give study authors the option to highlight aspects of the study design or the authors’ backgrounds that are relevant to diversity and inclusion. This information will be featured similarly as “conflict of interest” or “author contribution” statements that often appear within research papers. Authors could choose to highlight their efforts to address sex and gender differences in their research subjects, for example, or support they may have received from programs that advance scientists of color. A statement explaining the changes says the policy is intended to recognize those who have made efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in science, and hopefully will serve as a source of inspiration for others. 

Cancer survivors’ hearts are much older than the patients’ age, CDC data show

Cancer can cause cardiovascular damage and increase the heart age — a measure of the risk of stroke and heart attack — of survivors. New data from the CDC quantifies this measure among U.S. adults: Among male cancer survivors, the average predicted heart age was around 57 years, but the excess age, or difference between the actual age and predicted age, was 8.5 years, making their heart age closer to 66 years. For female cancer survivors, their predicted heart age was 54.8 years, but the true heart age was over 60 years. The prevalence of excess heart age that was five years or greater than the actual age was higher among males, those with lower education or income levels, and those who were Black. In this last group, Black women were especially likely to have heart ages higher than their physical age, putting them at higher risk for adverse cardiovascular events. 

Covid-19 in the U.S. 

Cases yesterday: 274,703
Deaths yesterday: 4,085 (yet another record)

What to read around the web today

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Friday, January 8, 2021


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