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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Global Covid-19 initiative has less than 10% of needed funds, Wellcome Trust head warns

Countries around the world have to make a binding commitment by today if they're participating in COVAX, the vaccine arm of the ACT-Accelerator to speed up development and access to Covid-19 tests, vaccines, and therapies. But Jeremy Farrar, director of the charitable foundation Wellcome Trust — and one of the groups behind ACT-Accelerator — is calling for urgent action from leaders because less than 10% of the $35 billion needed to fund the initiative has actually been raised. “Securing this funding now will prove to be the wisest investment humanity has ever made,” Farrar said in response to a statement from the G20 Joint Finance & Health Ministers expressing their commitment to fighting the pandemic.  And while he said the ministers' commitment was encouraging, “[W]e’re running out of time and these warm words must urgently turn into the real investment and global leadership that is needed,” he said. 

Fetal death rate is twice as high among Black mothers

Fetal mortalities by state, per 1,000 live births, between 2015-2017. (CDC)

Black women are twice as likely to experience stillbirth as Hispanic or white women, according to new CDC data. The U.S. fetal mortality rate between 2015-2017 was six deaths per 1,000 live births — but that figure was 11.2 deaths per 1,000 births for Black women, and around 5 deaths per 1,000 births for Hispanic and white women. The rate among Black women in New Jersey, West Virginia, and Mississippi was higher still, at around 17 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Efforts are underway to address these disparities faced by Black mothers, but OB-GYN Leslie Farrington writes in a new STAT First Opinion that the medical community must "recognize and eliminate racism, patriarchy, and elitism in medicine so all women can experience safe and effective and respectful maternity care." 

How the gender gap in preprint authorship has changed during Covid-19

The proportion of female corresponding authors — a signifier of seniority or other leading role in the research being presented — on papers posted to preprint servers has dipped during the Covid-19 pandemic. Scientists looked at more than a year's worth of data from medRxiv and bioRxiv, and found that the gender gap among medRxiv papers increased from 23% in January 2020 to 55% in April this year. Among bioRxiv papers, the gap remained steady at around 46%. These trends persisted regardless of whether the authors were based at U.S. institutions or not. Changes to school and work schedules as a result of the pandemic have meant that parents, especially women, have had to bear the brunt of disruptions, which is likely to have affected their work, the authors suggest. 

Inside STAT: What the U.S. did wrong on Covid-19 — and what others did right

South Korea, Taiwan, and New Zealand are among the countries who have been praised for being science-driven in the way they've communicated risks and recommendations about the Covid-19 pandemic to their citizens. The U.S. and the U.K. have notoriously not been as successful. In this week's episode of STAT's podcast "The Readout LOUD," health communications expert Heidi Tworek talks about these differences, especially the strategies that made for effective communication and which ones were less than ideal. Counterintuitively, for example, places that didn't rely on publicly shaming people for not following mask mandates or other rules saw higher rates of compliance than places with fines or other shaming strategies. Read the transcript of the conversation with Tworek here

Misophonia and other thought-provoking research win parody Nobels

The 30th annual Ig Nobel Prizes — a parody of the infamous Swedish awards — were announced as part of a virtual ceremony last night, and this year's winners revealed that there is no shortage of offbeat research. One team was recognized for devising a method to identify narcissists from examining their eyebrows — their research (published in a peer-reviewed journal) found that narcissists tended to have thicker or denser eyebrows. Another team won for coming up with diagnostic criteria for misophonia, the distress of hearing certain sounds like other people's chewing. On a more thought-provoking note, the leaders of Brazil, India, the U.S., the U.K., and five other countries were also deemed laureates — "for using the Covid-19 viral pandemic to teach the world that politicians can have a more immediate effect on life and death than scientists and doctors can." 

Half of physicians report losing control of their emotions during the pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic is hitting everyone hard, and physicians are no exception. A new report from the nonprofit The Physicians' Foundation finds that half of doctors have experienced what they characterized as inappropriate anger, tearfulness, or anxiety over the pandemic's impact on their practice or employment. The report, which was compiled based on responses from more than 2,300 physicians surveyed in mid-August, also states that nearly 1 in 5 physicians have increased their alcohol, prescription, or illicit medicine intake as a result of the pandemic. Nearly 60% of doctors reported burnout (compared to 40% who said the same in 2018). More than three-quarters said the general public's noncompliance of mask-wearing and other recommendations is their number one source of frustration. 

What to read around the web today

  • How Michael Caputo transformed what the public learned about coronavirus. Politico
  • CDC testing guidance was published against scientists’ objections. The New York Times
  • “I barely have anything left to give”: What it’s like parenting kids with autism during the pandemic. BuzzFeed News
  • Contact tracing, the West’s big hope for suppressing Covid-19, is in disarray. The Wall Street Journal

Thanks for reading! And Shana Tova to all those who will be celebrating Rosh Hashanah this weekend! I'll be back Monday, 


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Friday, September 18, 2020


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