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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Good morning! This is Kate Sheridan, reporter at STAT, filling in for Shraddha.

Quick reminder: if you were planning to apply for the Sharon Begley-STAT Science Reporting Fellowship, today is the deadline!

The lessons Covid-19 taught us about developing vaccines during a pandemic

Developing a Covid-19 vaccine was an impromptu time trial for pharmaceutical companies (and, possibly, an unwelcome one). But now the world has multiple vaccines, and it’s time to take stock of what went right and what didn’t go quite as right. Based on interviews with experts, STAT’s Helen Branswell compiled a dozen lessons worth taking away from the Covid-19 vaccine development process for next time — and “sadly, there will be a next time,” she writes. Among them: Making a vaccine and giving a vaccine are two very different problems. And for some things — but not all things — it really does help to have done it before. Read more.

Poll: Most neurologists and primary care doctors disagree with FDA's approval of Aduhelm

Most neurologists and primary care physicians think they don’t know enough about Aduhelm to make a decision about prescribing the drug, according to the results of a new STAT-Medscape survey. Specifically, about 61% of nearly 200 physician respondents said the data about the benefits and the risks were unclear; more than a quarter of them said the risks outweigh the benefits. More than two-thirds said they don’t plan on prescribing Aduhelm to their patients — though many expect patients and their caregivers to ask for the drug anyway. The survey was conducted about a week after the drug was approved — but before two House committees launched their investigation into Aduhelm’s approval process and price. STAT+ subscribers can read more here.

A majority of workers say their employer has encouraged Covid-19 vaccination

As offices begin to reopen, employers are grappling with Covid-19 vaccination policies for workers. In a new Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 2 in 3 employees report that their company has encouraged Covid-19 vaccinations; half say their employer has given them paid time off to get their shot or recover from it. (In some states, this kind of time off is actually mandatory; the Biden administration is also offering a tax credit to small businesses that provide paid time off for vaccination.) Those efforts do make a difference, the researchers write: “Workers who say their employer did either one of these things are more likely to report being vaccinated, even after controlling for other demographics, suggesting that more employers encouraging vaccination and offering paid time off could lead to higher vaccination rates among U.S. workers.”

Inside STAT: Primary care docs need to prepare for CGMs for type 2 diabetes

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(Adobe)

Until recently, continuous glucose monitors were the domain of medical specialists and people with type 1 diabetes. Now, these wearable devices — which check a person’s blood glucose level at regular intervals, without fingersticks — seem like a promising option for more people, including some who have type 2 diabetes. That change has come with some growing pains, reports STAT’s Katie Palmer, including arcane software systems and confusing insurance coverage criteria. Studies have indicated that these devices can be effective for some patients who take insulin, and the companies that make them are spending plenty of money on advertisements to make people aware that they exist. But ultimately, Palmer writes, “their effect in the real world will depend on whether — and how — primary care physicians are able to deploy them.”

Early in the pandemic, counties with state prisons saw higher Covid case counts

During the first wave of the pandemic, counties with state prisons saw 11% more Covid-19 cases than similar counties without state prisons, according to a new study. Additionally, about 5% of all U.S. cases between January 2020 and July 1, 2020, were “associated with prisons,” the economists estimate. The paper comes with some important caveats: getting detailed data about Covid-19 in prisons has been difficult. And the paper’s findings are only an association and do not prove causation. However, what is clear is that the pandemic has been devastating for incarcerated people. Reporting done at The Marshall Project has found federal prisons became “coronavirus death traps,” and that the federal prison system continued to transport people between facilities during the pandemic without testing them. (This study did not find a correlation between the presence of federal prisons and Covid-19 cases.)

Study finds a continued health gap among people with different levels of education

A huge health gap still exists between Americans with different levels of education, according to a new report on health disparities from the United Health Foundation, the philanthropic arm of insurance giant UnitedHealthcare. About a quarter of Americans whose education ended during high school reported being in very good or excellent health — 40 percentage points lower than the 65% of Americans who graduated college who say they’re in good health. That’s about the same difference that existed back in 2011. Lower levels of education were also tied to lower rates of insurance coverage, and higher rates of food insecurity. However, the report largely stops short of suggesting specific policies that could fix these issues. It also doesn’t include data from during the pandemic, which had a profound impact on people’s employment, food insecurity, and mental health.

Covid-19 in the U.S.

New cases yesterday (two-week average): 11,041
New deaths yesterday (two-week average): 284

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What to read around the web today

  • How India's Covid-hit hospitals ran out of oxygen. New York Times
  • ‘This is not enough’: Walmart’s plan to sell another private label insulin is met with skepticism. STAT+
  • Opinion: Is Covid’s impact on the brain as alarming as it sounds? Bloomberg
  • The health tech tracker for the third quarter: 11 pivotal industry events to watch. STAT+
  • L.A. County urges everyone to wear masks indoors as Delta variant spreads. Los Angeles Times 

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

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