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July 9, 2021

Covid roundup: Covid-19 mortality rates were twice as high in hard-hit hospitals, study finds

Daily Briefing

    Johnson & Johnson plans to begin its first vaccine study on adolescents in the fall, a study finds lotteries have little effect on increasing vaccination rates, and more in this week's roundup of Covid-19 news.

    • Ohio's "Vax-a-Million" lottery, which aimed to increase Covid-19 vaccination rates in the state, was not associated with increased vaccination numbers, according to a study published in JAMA Network. For the study, researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine used CDC vaccination data to compare vaccination rates in Ohio before and after the lottery against other U.S. states that did not have lottery-incentive programs for vaccination. The researchers found that lottery incentives do not help increase vaccination rates much, which indicates that funding may be better directed towards other programs like those that target the underlying causes of vaccine hesitancy, according to Healthcare Finance News. The study's authors said they hope the findings will lead states away from lotteries and toward other programs that may more successfully increase vaccine uptake. (Lagasse, Healthcare Finance News, 7/6)
    • Inpatient Covid-19 mortality doubled in hospitals that had high caseloads during the pandemic, according to a new NIH study. For the study, researchers analyzed the records of 144,116 hospitalized patients in 558 hospitals to see how patients were affected by Covid-19 surges. Using a "unique surge index," which measured hospital strain from Covid-19 in relation to bed capacity, the researchers found that high-surge hospitals had a twofold greater mortality compared to low-surge hospitals. According to the study, nearly one in four Covid-19 deaths in the United States may have been due to hospital strain. Vineet Chopra, a hospitalist at Michigan Medicine and one of the study's authors, who also wrote an accompanying editorial, said the findings suggest many deaths related to Covid-19 could have been averted with coordinated regional public health plans and hospital system interventions, as well as increased staff to stave off burnout and stress among clinicians. (Commins, HealthLeaders Media, 7/6)
    • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is testing an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that will help providers predict mortality risk among Covid-19 patients. According to VA, the AI tool uses two models to generate a report with 120-day mortality risk scores for both inpatient and outpatient settings. The first model assesses a patient based on health information before admission—such as age, weight, and any preexisting conditions noted on the patient's her. The second model considers any lab work and vital signs recorded at the time of admission. Providers can use the generated risk scores to estimate patients' probability of mortality. So far, 13 VA Medical Centers across the country are using the AI tool. (Mitchell, Becker's Health IT, 7/1)­
    • A spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson (J&J) on June 30 announced the company plans to begin its first Covid-19 vaccine study for children ages 12 to 17 this fall. Macaya Douoguih, head of clinical development and medical affairs at Janssen Vaccines and Prevention B.V., said the study will be first of four to examine how the company's vaccine performs in children and adolescents. The next three studies will include children ages 2 to 11, children younger than 2 years, and high-risk and immunocompromised children ages 1 to 17. A minimum of 4,500 participants will be enrolled across the four studies. According to The Hill, the J&J and Moderna vaccines have been authorized by FDA for use only in adults, with only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine receiving FDA authorization for use in those ages 12 and older. (Coleman, The Hill, 7/1)


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