Morning Rounds Elizabeth Cooney

Former Biden, Trump advisers renew push to delay second Covid vaccine

As Covid-19 cases spike and coronavirus variants spread, the Biden administration is facing renewed calls to delay second vaccine doses and blanket more of the U.S. population with an initial shot. Advocates of the strategy include Democratic and Republican senators, Trump administration surgeon general Jerome Adams, and at least four physicians or epidemiologists who advised President Biden prior to his inauguration, including the prominent surgeon and author Atul Gawande. Despite the new advocacy, and its own warnings of "impending doom," the Biden administration has given no indication it will budge. But the shift in opinion underscores the growing alarm at a possible fourth wave of U.S. Covid-19 cases — and frustration with the federal government’s lack of flexibility. STAT’s Lev Facher has more.

Vaccine reluctance is ebbing, poll finds

Pandemic researchers have for weeks been painting the current situation as a race between the vaccine and the variants. A significant number of Americans are still reluctant to get the shots, even in places where they are plentiful. Now 25% of Americans say they probably or definitely will not get vaccinated, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. They are leery of possible side effects, more likely to be Republican, and usually younger and less susceptible to becoming critically ill or dying if they catch Covid-19. That’s a slight shift from late January, when 67% of adults were willing to get vaccinated or had already received at least one shot. Now that figure has climbed to 75%.

Kids in the ER are waiting longer for mental health care

Children taken to the emergency room for mental health concerns are more likely to be stuck there for extended stays than they were a decade ago, according to new research. Hispanic children are almost three times more likely than white children to experience these delays in care that researchers believe are a sign of worsening access to adequate pediatric mental health care. “We would never let a child with diabetes wait for a week to see an endocrinologist and start their insulin,” Lois Lee, a physician at Boston Children’s Hospital who was not involved in the study, tells STAT’s Theresa Gaffney. “We are letting these children wait for a week to get the care they need.”

Inside STAT: And the STAT Madness winners are ...

Dan Barouch's team pivoted from HIV research to to develop a single-dose Covid-19 vaccine. (lane turner/the boston globe)

From curing herpes to treating diabetes in a new way, their innovations might one day treat some of the world’s most prevalent health problems. This year’s two finalists in STAT Madness, a bracket-style competition that showcases cutting-edge research across the biomedical sciences, are a team from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center that developed a gene-editing technique to potentially treat and even cure herpes and a group from MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital that devised a liquid solution that coats the small intestine with a temporary adhesive, a noninvasive technique that could help deliver drugs or treat diabetes. Both teams were declared winners after STAT editors identified unusual voting patterns in the final round.

The Editors’ Pick honors Dan Barouch's team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for rapidly shifting gears from HIV vaccine research and for their work to develop a single-dose, easily shipped and stored Covid-19 vaccine that became Johnson & Johnson’s product.

CDC says vaccinated people can travel, but keep up those precautions

The CDC updated its guidance on travel late last week to say fully vaccinated people can travel domestically without having to show a negative Covid-19 test or quarantining, but it’s still not time to drop precautions. People two weeks past their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the single J&J dose can travel within the U.S. as long as they wear a mask, avoid crowds, socially distance, and wash hands frequently. For international travel, the CDC still advises fully vaccinated people to have a negative Covid-19 test result before they board a flight to the U.S., and be tested three to five days after they return. That’s because it’s unknown whether they can transmit the virus to others. There are new rules for cruise operators, too.

Balancing work-family life in a pandemic when you work in health care

We’ve heard about the stress and burnout frontline health care workers feel throughout the pandemic. A new survey asked 5,000 clinical and nonclinical workers at an academic medical center about their home lives and how family issues, such as child care, affected their work lives. Three-quarters of the people who answered the email survey were women, 86% were white, and almost half of them had children under 18. Most did not have child care fully available and many considered leaving the workforce and worried about their careers. Women with children and people with clinical jobs were more likely to consider leaving the workforce and reducing hours. "It is imperative that medical centers support their employees and trainees during this challenging time," the authors write.

Covid-19 cases in the U.S.

Cases yesterday: 34,282
Deaths yesterday
: 222
Vaccine doses distributed, per CDC207,891,295
Total doses administered: 165,053,746


What to read around the web today

  • The city losing its children to HIV. New York Times
  • Pandemic spreads isolation and nations try to soften the sounds of silence. Wall Street Journal
  • Boston’s hospital chiefs moonlight on corporate boards at rates far beyond the national rate. Boston Globe
  • From opioid crisis to Hollywood: Heir to Purdue Pharma undergoes 'identity makeover.' Hollywood Reporter
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb agrees to pay $75 million to settle allegations of underpaying Medicaid rebates. STAT+

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

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