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Morning Rounds Elizabeth Cooney

Here comes the ad campaign to promote vaccines

The White House this week will unveil a wide-reaching, $1.5 billion public relations campaign aimed at boosting vaccine confidence and uptake across the U.S., Biden administration aides tell STAT's Lev Facher in an exclusive new story. The colossal effort highlights a looming and underappreciated public health challenge: Though millions of Americans are currently clamoring to receive a vaccine, in a few short months, or even weeks, the opposite may be true, according to public health experts. Instead of scrambling to manufacture doses, Biden officials may find themselves scrambling to find arms willing to receive them. “I’m worried about the 15% of Americans who say they will not take the vaccine,” said Sten Vermund, dean of the Yale School of Public Health.

Bombshell analysis traces new Ebola outbreak to survivor of West Africa crisis

A survivor of the massive 2014-2016 West African Ebola outbreak almost certainly triggered an outbreak currently underway in Guinea, according to a new genetic analysis, news that has landed like a bombshell among researchers who study the dangerous virus. The analysis suggests that a survivor of the historic Ebola outbreak continued harboring the virus at least five years after being infected, eventually transmitting it to someone. Previously, the longest an Ebola survivor was believed to have shed the virus was about 500 days. “I was completely shocked,” Angela Rasmussen, a virologist affiliated with the Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security, tells STAT. The discovery was revealed in a genetic analysis of viruses from the current outbreak and posted online Friday.

Depression follows Covid-19 for some adults

As if Covid-19 were not bad enough, depression preceded by problems with mood, sleep, anxiety, and fatigue follow the infection in a significant proportion of people, a new paper suggests. Half of nearly 4,000 people who responded to an online survey — whose topic was disclosed only after entering — met criteria for moderate or more severe depression. People who reported headache as a symptom during their illness were more likely to have depressive symptoms; loss of smell and taste were not linked. There are caveats, the authors note, including not knowing about a previous history of depression. “Nevertheless, our results add to a growing body of evidence suggesting the importance of considering potential neuropsychiatric sequelae of COVID-19 infection,” they write.

Inside STAT: Rediscovering the miracle of vaccines

People wait for polio shots at Evansville, Ind., Municipal Stadium in August 1959. (AP)

Rupali Limaye of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins University got her first dose of Covid-19 vaccine a couple of weeks ago. “I bawled,” she admitted without embarrassment. Talk to anyone working in a Covid vaccination clinic and you’ll hear tales about the joy, the relief, the shedding of the cloak of dread that has weighed down so many people during pandemic isolation. Not since the rollout of polio vaccine in the mid-1950s, when frantic parents queued up with children to get Jonas Salk’s preventative inoculations, have vaccines been cast in such a favorable light. While acknowledging memories are short and views on vaccinations are complex, some public health experts are hopeful that declining death rates after increasing vaccination rates will create a greater appreciation for vaccines across the board. STAT’s Helen Branswell explains.

Cancer network urges patients to get Covid vaccine

As knowledge about the pandemic evolves, so do guidelines for treating people with cancer, who have a greater risk of complications from Covid-19 than healthy people. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network says all people in active treatment for cancer should feel safe receiving any of the three vaccines currently authorized by the FDA, but has updated some of its January recommendations.

  • Because some people's lymph nodes swell after vaccination, imaging should be postponed for four to six weeks if possible to avoid false positives.
  • Participating in clinical trials shouldn’t prevent anyone from getting vaccinated, nor should getting vaccinated keep people out of trials. 
  • Because its usefulness hasn’t been established, antibody testing outside a clinical trial is not advised.
The group also urges priority for cancer patients to receive vaccine.

Pandemic undermines teenagers' mental well-being

(C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health at Michigan Medicine)

Young people ages 13-18 are living lives restricted by the pandemic, missing in-person school, sports, and the activities with friends that ordinarily animate teenage years. In a new survey, half of parents interviewed said those pandemic losses have led to new or worsening mental health problems. Three in four parents said social connections had suffered. Girls’ parents were more likely than boys’ parents to note new or worse signs of depression or anxiety, but there was little difference between boys and girls in who was having trouble sleeping, withdrawing from family, or behaving aggressively. In response, the poll said, parents are relaxing Covid-19 rules, easing family rules on social media, seeking professional help, and encouraging the use of mental health apps.

Covid-19 cases in the U.S.

Cases yesterday: 38,222
Deaths yesterday
: 572
Vaccine doses distributed, per CDC135,847,835
Total doses administered: 107,060,274


What to read around the web today

  • Eli Lilly releases detailed results on Alzheimer’s drug, as data divide researchers. STAT
  • Maggots, rape and yet five stars: How U.S. ratings of nursing homes mislead the public. New York Times
  • New York vaccine czar called county officials to gauge their loyalty to Cuomo amid sexual harassment investigation. Washington Post
  • States are finding more unreported Covid-19 deaths. Wall Street Journal
  • Covid cases plummet 83% among nursing home staffers despite vaccine hesitancy. KHN

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

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