Read AMA Morning Rounds®’ most popular stories in medicine and public health from the week of Sept. 14, 2020 – Sept. 18, 2020.

Preventive health care has declined during pandemic

The New York Times (9/11, Kliff) reported, “When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Americans vastly scaled back their preventive health care, and there is little sign that this deferred care will be made up.” In April, “vaccinations dropped by nearly 60 percent...and almost no one was getting a colonoscopy, according to new data from the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute.” The data “shows a consistent pattern, whether it was prostate screenings or contraceptives: Preventive care declined drastically this spring and, as of late June, had not yet recovered to normal levels.”

The Hill (9/11, Weixel) reported that according to HCCI, “childhood vaccinations dropped 60 percent in April at the height of the pandemic compared to 2019 levels, and by June were still down close to 30 percent.” Moreover, “mammograms and Pap smears were down nearly 80 percent in April 2020, and by June were down nearly a quarter from 2019.”

UK scientists testing whether two coronavirus vaccine candidates may be more effective when inhaled rather than injected

The AP (9/14) reports scientists at Oxford University and Imperial College London “are beginning a small study comparing how two experimental coronavirus vaccines might work when they are inhaled by people instead of being injected.” The scientists “said a trial involving 30 people would test vaccines developed by both institutions when participants inhale the droplets in their mouths, which would directly target their respiratory systems.”

Reuters (9/14, Smout) reports both vaccine candidates are “being tested in trials through intramuscular injection, but scientists from Imperial said that vaccines delivered via inhalation could potentially deliver a more specialised response.” Chris Chiu of Imperial’s Department of Infectious Disease said there is evidence influenza vaccines can be more effective when inhaled, “We are keen to explore if this may also be the case for SARS-CoV-2 and whether delivering COVID-19 vaccines to the respiratory tract is safe and produces an effective immune response.”

CDC data indicate COVID-19 disproportionately killing Hispanic, Black, American Indian children

The Washington Post (9/15, Wan) reports, “The coronavirus is killing Hispanic, Black and American Indian children at much higher numbers than their White peers, according to federal statistics released Tuesday.” The figures “show there have been 391,814 known cases and 121 deaths among people under the age of 21 from February to July.” Among those 121 children who died “more than 75 percent” were “Hispanic, Black, and American Indian children.” These “disproportionate deaths among youths echo pandemic disparities well-documented among adults.”

Bloomberg (9/15, Cortez, Court) reports that “overall, according to the report, Hispanics accounted for 45% of deaths while Black people accounted for 29%.” Moreover, “minority children are disproportionately represented in families of essential workers who are often unable to do their jobs from home, which puts them at higher risk for exposure to the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2, according to the CDC report.” Parents and other “older members of the household who become infected could pass the virus to the children they live with, the agency said.”

The AP (9/15, Stobbe) reports that “like older adults, many of” the people younger than 21 who died “had one or more medical [conditions] – like lung problems, including asthma, obesity, heart problems or developmental conditions.”

Administration outlines plan to distribute coronavirus vaccines to Americans free of charge

The New York Times (9/16, Thomas) reports federal officials “outlined details Wednesday of their preparations to administer a future coronavirus vaccine to Americans, saying they would begin distribution within 24 hours of any approval or emergency authorization, and that their goal was that no American ‘has to pay a single dime’ out of their own pocket.” The officials with “Operation Warp Speed – the multiagency effort to quickly make a coronavirus vaccine available to Americans – also said the timing of a vaccine was still unclear.”

The Wall Street Journal (9/16, Hopkins, Loftus, Subscription Publication) reports that the first shipments of a vaccine would begin soon after the FDA issued its approval and that drugmakers have already started manufacturing doses so they will be prepared to ship them if they are proved safe and effective and are authorized by regulators.

The AP (9/16, Alonso-Zaldivar, Perrone, Stobbe) reports, “In a report to Congress and an accompanying ‘playbook’ for states and localities, federal health agencies and the Defense Department sketched out complex plans for a vaccination campaign to begin gradually in January or even late this year, eventually ramping up to reach any American who wants a shot.”

CDC report says efforts to curb spread of SARS-CoV-2 have led to global decline in influenza

Healio (9/17, Dreisbach) reports steps taken to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 “have led to a global decline in influenza during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Healio adds, “In addition to causing a significant drop in the percentage of respiratory specimens that tested positive for influenza in the early days of the pandemic in the United States, measures such as mask wearing, social distancing, school closures and telework have kept positive tests at ‘historically low interseasonal levels.’”

HealthDay (9/17, Thompson) reports Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said, “Because influenza and COVID-19 are transmitted in similar fashion, it is expected that community mitigation for one will have an impact on the other. This is clearly demonstrated in the data of the just-prior flu season in the United States, as well as the current flu season the Southern Hemisphere is in.”

AMA Morning Rounds news coverage is developed in affiliation with Bulletin Healthcare LLC. Subscribe to Morning Rounds Daily.

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