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Top news stories from AMA Morning Rounds®: Week of May 11, 2020

Read AMA Morning Rounds®’ most popular stories in medicine and public health from the week of May 11, 2020 – May 15, 2020.

Childhood vaccinations have declined since pandemic started, CDC says

CNN (5/8, Fox) reported that “childhood vaccinations have plunged since the [COVID-19] pandemic began spreading through the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.” The agency “reported a ‘notable decrease’ in the number of vaccines ordered through a federal program that immunizes half of all kids in the country.” The CDC cautioned that “unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children will be at risk of other infectious diseases besides coronavirus.”

STAT (5/8, Branswell) reported that “there was a 2.5 million-dose decline in orders of regular childhood vaccines – not counting influenza vaccines – and a 250,000-dose decline in vaccines containing measles protection.”

Researchers say an app shows promise in tracking coronavirus cases

The New York Times (5/11, Jacobs) reports that as public health officials struggle “to track the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in real time,” a team of scientists in the U.S. and the U.K. “say a crowdsourcing smartphone app may be the answer to that quandary.” In a study published in Nature Medicine, “researchers found that an app that allows people to check off symptoms they are experiencing was remarkably effective in predicting coronavirus infections among the 2.5 million people who were using it between March 24 and April 21.” Using “a mathematical model, the researchers were able to predict with nearly 80% accuracy whether a person was likely to have COVID-19 based on their age, sex and a combination of four symptoms.”

Hydroxychloroquine may not benefit patients with COVID-19 who are seriously ill, study suggests

Fox News (5/12, Ciaccia) reports on a study published in JAMA including 1,438 “seriously ill” patients with COVID-19 in 25 New York state hospitals finding that hydroxychloroquine “yielded no benefits.” Of the patients studied, 735 received hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin, while 271 received hydroxychloroquine alone, 211 received azithromycin alone, and 221 received neither. The study also indicated that receiving both hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin was “associated with significantly elevated levels of cardiac arrest even after statistical adjustment for sex, age, underlying health conditions, and more severe illness upon admission.”

CNN (5/11, Cohen) says the study indicates hydroxychloroquine “does not work against [COVID-19] and could cause heart problems.”

Studies suggest novel coronavirus can infect organs throughout the body

CNN (5/13, Fox) reports the new coronavirus “can infect organs throughout the body, including lungs, throat, heart, liver, brain, kidneys and the intestines, researchers reported Wednesday.” Two separate reports “suggest the virus goes far beyond the lungs and can attack various organs – findings that can help explain the wide range of symptoms caused by [COVID-19] infection.” One report was published in Nature Medicine, while the other was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

CDC issues health advisory for physicians regarding childhood illness linked to COVID-19

CNN (5/14, Fox) reports the CDC “issued a health advisory to thousands of doctors across the country Thursday, advising them to be on the lookout for a troubling new syndrome that may be associated with [COVID-19] infection.” The syndrome, “called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), has been seen in children across Europe and in at least 18 states, plus Washington, DC.”

The AP (5/14, Tanner) reports the agency’s case definition “includes current or recent COVID-19 infection or exposure to the virus, a fever of at least 100.4 for at least 24 hours, severe illness requiring hospitalization, inflammatory markers in blood tests, and evidence of problems affecting at least two organs that could include the heart, kidneys, lungs, skin or other nervous system.” The condition “has been reported in at least 110 New York children and in several kids in other states,” and “a few children have died.”

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