What We're Reading: CDC Mask Guidance Loosened; RSV Vaccine Trial Halted; US Transplant System Reform

New CDC guidance says that Americans who live in areas with low to medium COVID-19 transmission can stop wearing masks indoors; GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) halts 3 vaccine clinical trials for the respiratory syncytial virus in pregnant women; a scientific advisory panel recommends a major overhaul of the US transplant system.

CDC Loosens Guidance on Mask Wearing

The CDC issued new guidance stating that most Americans, including students in schools, who live in areas where community transmission of COVID-19 is a low or medium threat to hospitals can safely remove their masks while indoors. The Associated Press reports that the new guidance will apply to more than 70% of the US population, whereas 37% of US counties are still deemed at high risk for the virus. The guidance does not change the requirement to wear masks on public transportation or indoors in airports, train stations, and bus stations.

GSK Halts 3 Respiratory Vaccine Trials For Pregnant Women

Reuters reports that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) halted enrollment and vaccination Monday in 3 trials investigating use of its experimental vaccine against the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in pregnant women. As the latest setback for the vaccine, the announcement comes after GSK had paused its late-stage trial, called GRACE, and 2 other studies on February 18 amid safety recommendations from an independent committee that has yet to provide further details. GSK’s RSV vaccine trial in adults aged 60 and over has not been halted, with the company adding that safety data from the maternal trials is still ongoing.

Report Recommends Overhaul of US Transplant System

A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommended that the US transplant system be overhauled in the next 5 years. The report highlighted flaws preventing the United States from performing more life-saving transplants. More than 106,000 patients are waiting for transplants; 17 die each day before they are able to undergo surgery. Many in need of a transplant are unable to be placed on waiting lists, whether because of geographic disparities or racial disparities.