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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Sanofi, GSK announce positive early results for their Covid-19 vaccine candidate


Sanofi and GSK announced this morning positive results from a Phase 2 trial testing their joint Covid-19 vaccine. The companies said that their vaccine generated strong neutralizing antibodies in volunteers of all age groups enrolled in the trial. The two companies, usually known for their vaccine production, are behind in the Covid vaccine race following a setback at the end of last year. In December, the companies shared that they didn't have sufficient data from a Phase 1/2 trial, which was in turn caused by inadequate formulation of the vaccine. Based on today's news, however, the companies are planning to start a large global Phase 3 trial in the coming weeks. 

Mask mandates might be going away, but don’t ditch yours just yet

Even though the CDC has now changed its recommendation to say that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most indoor settings, many epidemiologists are still urging the public to not throw away their masks just yet. One reason is the changing weather in the U.S.: Viral transmission is likely to be less during the upcoming summer months, but Covid restrictions may be revisited in the fall, when the threat of the virus and related variants may loom more urgently. Even beyond the pandemic, holding on to mask-wearing as a regular behavior may stave off other infections we were otherwise used to tolerating, including cold and flu. Read more here.

Surgical complications and mortality rates are higher among Canada's Indigenous population

New research suggests Indigenous peoples in Canada are more likely to have complications following a surgery and are also more likely to die from them than non-Native people. Researchers reviewed data from four studies of post-surgery outcomes, and found that Indigenous populations had a 30% higher mortality from complications after surgery than non-Native people. Indigenous peoples also had much higher rates of complications: Rates of infections overall were 63% higher in this population, who were also more than twice as likely to be infected with pneumonia. Although the study didn't include any data from Inuit or Métis populations in Canada, the study authors write that the findings warrant reexamining surgical care for these marginalized communities. 

Inside STAT: Abandoned Trump EO on the bioeconomy highlights path forward for Biden

An executive order from President Trump was set to streamline what's known as the "bioeconomy," a category of products including lab-grown meat and modified immune cells for immunotherapy. But the Covid-19 pandemic upended these plans — which also included a directive to create an "interagency committee" to create a national bioeconomy strategy — according to a draft of the EO obtained by STAT. The Biden administration is now within striking distance of making this plan come to life, and many biotech companies are hoping that it will become reality. But there are differences, including the role of the defense sector, between the Trump version and the Biden version that will still need to be sorted. STAT's Nicholas Florko has more for STAT+ subscribers here

New report highlights cardiovascular disease burden among women 

In a wide-ranging and first-of-its-kind report, a Lancet commission is calling attention to the global burden of cardiovascular disease on women's health. Heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions are set to account for 35% of deaths in women by 2030. Although many countries have seen a decrease in these deaths since 1990, highly populated countries such as China and India have seen an increase in recent years. The report — compiled by 17 experts across 11 countries — lays out 10 recommendations for reducing cardiovascular deaths among women, including increasing women's participation in clinical trials for heart health treatment and better training primary care physicians to screen at-risk women and guide them through disease prevention.

Naloxone prescriptions dipped during the pandemic, suggesting a problem of access

A new study finds naloxone prescriptions in the U.S. dipped at the start of the pandemic last year, and haven't recovered to pre-pandemic levels. Looking at claims data from retail pharmacies, mail-order pharmacies, and specialty pharmacies from May 2019-December 2020, researchers found a 26% reduction in naloxone prescriptions last March, which didn't rise significantly afterward. Naloxone prescriptions for those on Medicare and commercial insurance were lower than for those on Medicaid or those who paid with cash. Naloxone is often prescribed with an opioid but these prescriptions only dipped by 9%, suggesting an access problem, according to the study authors. 

Covid-19 in the U.S.

Cases yesterday: 16,864
Deaths yesterday: 262

Vaccine doses distributed, per CDC344,503,495
Total doses administered: 273,545,207

What to read around the web today

  • India is making it nearly impossible for homeless people to get vaccinated. Vice
  • How a genetic trait in Black people can give the police cover. The New York Times
  • At Illumina, the ‘era of the genome’ has arrived. But what role will the company play? STAT
  • Retired Black players say NFL brain-injury payouts show bias. Associated Press
  • Marijuana medical research growers receive U.S. approval. The Wall Street Journal

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

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