Vol. X | Issue 8                                                                  February 23, 2021
Why We Can't Make Vaccine Doses Any Faster
Isaac Arnsdorf and Ryan Gabrielson report for Pro Publica
 
President Joe Biden has ordered enough vaccines to immunize every American against COVID-19, and his administration says it's using the full force of the federal government to get the doses by July. There's a reason he can't promise them sooner.

Vaccine supply chains are extremely specialized and sensitive, relying on expensive machinery, highly trained staff and finicky ingredients. Manufacturers have run into intermittent shortages of key materials, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office; the combination of surging demand and workforce disruptions from the pandemic has caused delays of four to 12 weeks for items that used to ship within a week, much like what happened when consumers were sent scrambling for household staples like flour, chicken wings and toilet paper. 
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Capping Hospital Prices Could Save $235B Annually, Rand Study Says
Ron Shinkman reports for Healthcare Dive:
 
Aggressively regulating the prices of hospital services could reduce healthcare spending by more than $235 billion a year, according to a new study issued by the think tank Rand.

The report also examines price transparency and increased market competition among hospitals, and concluded that setting fixed prices would save the most money.  However, the study's authors also acknowledge how difficult price setting would be to accomplish politically, and that it could cause hospitals to close and the quality of care to erode.

The American Hospital Association blasted the report, throwing blame on insurers, noting their recent healthy profits.
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FloridaHealthIndustry.com
Sounding the Alarm: How Noise Hurts Your Heart  
Cypress Hansen 
In 2011, Germany's Frankfurt Airport - the country's busiest - unveiled its fourth runway. The addition sparked major protests, with demonstrators returning to the airport every Monday for years. "It's destroying my life," one protester told Reuters a year later. "Every time I go into my garden, all I can hear and see are planes right above."

The new runway also channeled dozens of aircraft directly over the house of Thomas Münzel, a cardiologist at the University Medical Center of Mainz. "I have lived close to the German Autobahn and close to inner city train tracks," he says. "Aircraft noise is the most annoying by far." Münzel had read a 2009 World Health Organization report linking noise to heart problems, but evidence at the time was thin. Driven in part by concern for his own health, in 2011 he shifted the focus of his research to learn more.

Exposure to loud noise has long been linked with hearing loss. But the ruckus of planes and cars takes a toll beyond the ears: Traffic noise has been flagged as a major physiological stressor, second to air pollution and on roughly equal footing with exposure to secondhand smoke and radon. In the last decade, a growing body of research more directly links air and road traffic noise to a heightened risk for a number of cardiovascular ailments - and scientists are beginning to pinpoint the mechanisms at play.
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500K COVID deaths reported in US
500K COVID deaths reported in US
Efforts are underway to get a vaccine rollout back on track after winter storms delayed shipments.
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