Read AMA Morning Rounds®’ most popular stories in medicine and public health from the week of July, 6, 2020 – July 10, 2020.

Coronavirus mutation may make virus more likely to infect others, but doesn’t appear to make people more sick than earlier variations, research suggests

The New York Times (7/2, Carey) reported, “For months, scientists have debated whether a variant of the coronavirus that has come to predominate in much of the world did so partly because it is more transmissible than other viruses.” A “new report, posted by the journal Cell...suggested that the variant did have such an advantage,” although “other researchers said the findings were not yet definitive.”

Newsweek (7/3, Gander) reported, “The scientists said the variants named D614 and G614 have differences in what is known as an amino acid that makes up the spike protein.” The study authors say “it will be important to determine whether the variants behave differently with antibodies either triggered by vaccinations or natural infection.” For example, “it may be the case that if G614 is more infectious, it will need higher antibody levels for protection by vaccines or antibody therapeutics.”

CNN (7/2, Fox) reported, “The new mutation makes the virus more likely to infect people but does not seem to make them any sicker than earlier variations of the virus, an international team of researchers reported Thursday.” The recently-published study “builds on some earlier work the team did that was released on a preprint server earlier in the year.”

The Hill (7/2, Bowden) reported the “strain of the coronavirus that was first seen in Italy is now the dominant strain of the virus...scientists said Thursday.” This “strain is different than what appeared in Wuhan, China, the city where the coronavirus is believed to have originated.”

AMA, other medical groups urge Americans to wear face masks

Politico (7/6, Cohen) reports a letter signed by the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Nurses Association said, “This is why as physicians, nurses, hospital and health system leaders, researchers and public health experts, we are urging the American public to take the simple steps we know will help stop the spread of the virus: wearing a face mask, maintaining physical distancing, and washing hands.”

HealthDay (7/6, Preidt) reports that the groups wrote that Americans “are not powerless in this public health crisis, and we can defeat it in the same way we defeated previous threats to public health – by allowing science and evidence to shape our decisions and inform our actions.”

HealthLeaders Media (7/6, Blackman) reports that the letter said, “Moving forward, we must all remain vigilant and continue taking steps to mitigate the spread of the virus to protect each other and our loved ones. There is only one way we will get through this – together.”

Personal protective gear supply said to be running low again as coronavirus continues to spread across U.S.

The AP (7/7, Mulvihill, Fassett) reports that “the personal protective gear that was in dangerously short supply during the early weeks of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. is running low again as the virus resumes its rapid spread and the number of hospitalized patients climbs.” Overall, protective gear supplies “are more robust now, and many states and major hospital chains say they are in better shape. But medical professionals and some lawmakers have cast doubt on those improvements as shortages begin to reappear.” Meanwhile, “the American Medical Association wrote to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress calling for a coordinated national strategy to buy and allocate gear.”

Citing the AP report, Forbes (7/7, Robinson-Jacobs) says that “Deborah Burger, president of National Nurses United, cited results from a union survey showing that five months after the pandemic began in the U.S., ‘there are still shortages of gowns, hair covers, shoe covers, masks, N95 masks…and we’re still being told to reuse them.’”

U.S. has reached three million coronavirus cases

USA Today (7/8, Cava, Ortiz) reports, “The USA has 3 million documented cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, a virulent bug that crawled into the national consciousness early in the year and is likely to consume the rest of it.” The “milestone reached Wednesday represents roughly a quarter of the world’s cases and the same percentage of its deaths.” It took the country “a little more than three months to hit 1 million cases on April 28. It took about half that time, 44 days, to get to 2 million on June 11 and only 26 days to reach 3 million on July 8.” Based on that trend, “if no new measures are taken, 4 million cases could be tallied as soon as July 22.” NIAID Director Anthony Fauci “notes that the average age of those getting infected with the coronavirus is about 15 years younger than a few months ago.”

Reuters (7/9, Shumaker) reports the U.S. “reported more than 60,000 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the biggest increase ever reported by a country in a single day, according to a Reuters tally.”

Most Americans still have not been tested for coronavirus

Newsweek (7/9, Kim) reports, “As coronavirus cases in the U.S. continue to rise, climbing past 3 million, the vast majority of Americans have not been tested for the virus, nearly six months after the first U.S. case was reported in late January.” As of Thursday, “37,431,666 people in the country have been tested, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.” That “amounts to around 11% of the U.S. population of nearly 329 million, with about 90% of Americans not tested.”

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