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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Charting the coronavirus pandemic over the next 12 months — and beyond


(Mike Reddy for STAT)

What does the future of the pandemic in the U.S. look like? It's the question everyone —from people trying to plan vacations to experts trying to issue public health guidance — has been trying to answer for the past seven months. In a sweeping new project, STAT's Andrew Joseph takes a look at 30 turning points that could change the pandemic's trajectory or offer a barometer of the response, from how Trump talks about Covid-19 during the first presidential debate this month to what the late-stage data from vaccine trials will look like if they emerge in December. This road map is informed by interviews with dozens of experts, including public leaders like Anthony Fauci, frontline workers in hospitals and schools, and epidemiologists. See what the months ahead might look like here

Nearly 160 countries join global effort for a Covid-19 vaccine

A total of 156 countries — representing 64% of the world's population — are now a part of the global collaborative aimed at ensuring accelerated access to Covid-19 vaccines. Missing from the list are the U.S. — which had previously indicated it would not take part in the COVAX facility —  along with Russia and China. The COVAX facility hopes to purchase 2 billion doses of a viable Covid-19 vaccine by the end of 2021. So far, 64 high-income nations have signed on to COVAX. While their participation will be crucial to help fund the effort, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “working together through the COVAX Facility is not charity, it’s in every country’s own best interests to control the pandemic and accelerate the global economic recovery." 

New Mexico, Colorado top healthiest U.S. communities list

Los Alamos County in New Mexico is the healthiest community in the country, according to this year’s U.S. News & World Report and Aetna Foundation list of the healthiest communities. Here’s a closer look at the rankings:

  • The design: This year's rankings looked at 3,000 U.S. communities and assessed them across 84 metrics, including access to health care, food availability, and housing affordability. 
  • The findings: Los Alamos County in New Mexico earned the top spot this year, pushing last year's winner of Douglas County, Colo. to second. Two other Colorado counties also earned spots among the top five. 
  • A key takeaway: This year's analysis also found that the healthier the community, the lower the Covid-19 infection case rate. Los Alamos County's infection rate has been among the 100 lowest, while the 500 healthiest communities have had an overall case rate that's 40% lower than the other communities included in this year's rankings. 

Inside STAT: Biden toes the line on Covid-19 vaccine messaging

The current path to a Covid-19 vaccine is posing a conundrum for Democrats. Some lawmakers, including Democratic vice presidential pick Kamala Harris, have expressed support for vaccinations. But they've also said they don't trust President Trump or his process for getting a Covid-19 vaccine approved before the election, citing instances when they say Trump has disregarded the advice of government scientists and pushed treatments not backed by strong data. Republican lawmakers were quick to label Harris and others who expressed skepticism as "anti-vaxxers." Now, the Biden campaign is doubling down to say any Covid-19 vaccine will have to earn endorsement from apolitical scientists and outside experts before the U.S. public can be encouraged to get it. STAT's Lev Facher has more here

Many kids with mental health concerns don't get appropriate or timely care



A new national study finds that many kids don't get the appropriate follow-up care soon after an initial insurance claim for a mental health condition. The study included data from more than two million children covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield. Of the more than 200,000 children in the study with at least one mental health claim, nearly 30% didn't get any follow-up treatment in the three months after an initial claim. Of those who were prescribed medication, 45% were given drugs that could be addictive or that were not FDA-approved for use in children. The analysis also found having more psychiatrists in the child's zip code increased the likelihood of medication treatment, while more therapists in the area increased the chances of therapy alone. 

In-hospital deaths from alcohol use disorder has decreased in the past two decades

Hospital deaths among people with alcohol use disorder have dropped by more than a quarter since 1998, according to new research that examined in-patient hospital data from 1998 to 2016. Experts found that although there was a small increase in the number of people hospitalized for alcohol use disorder, the mortality rate of these patients per 100,000 insurance claims fell by 28% during that time. One caveat: The study only looked at those with a primary diagnosis of alcohol use disorder, so patients with the condition but with other primary diagnoses could have been missed. 

What to read around the web today

  • A notorious Covid troll actually works for Dr. Fauci's agency. The Daily Beast
  • The Lancet changes editorial policy after hydroxychloroquine Covid study retraction. The Guardian
  • Foreign masks, fear and a fake certification: Staff at CSL Plasma say conditions at donation centers aren’t safe. ProPublica
  • Gasping for air: Autopsies reveal troubling effects of lethal injection. NPR
  • CDC deletes new guidance saying COVID-19 can spread beyond 6 feet. The Boston Globe

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

Shraddha

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

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