What We're Reading: Immune Response in Mixing Doses; Convalescent Plasma Use Not Effective for COVID-19; Gender Pay Gap Among Doctors

British study finds higher immune response when mixing Pfizer, AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines with Moderna; World Health Organization strongly advises against the use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19; disparities in pay by gender among physicians.

Study Finds Improved Immune Response When Mixing COVID-19 Vaccines

According to a study published yesterday in The Lancet, people who received a first dose of AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines were shown to exhibit higher antibodies and T-cell responses when given the Moderna vaccine 9 weeks later. As reported by Reuters, the immune response was shown to be higher than the threshold set by the traditional 2-dose schedule of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which may promote flexible dosing in low- and middle-income countries where vaccine supply is scarce. No safety concerns were cited, but limitations of the study included its older adult and primarily White cohort.

WHO Strongly Advises Against Convalescent Plasma Use For COVID-19

As reported by CNBC, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a strong recommendation yesterday against the use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19, amid research showing it provided no improvement in patients. The blood plasma, donated from an individual who recovered from the virus, was hypothesized to enhance a patient’s antibodies to fight infection, but WHO conversely found no clear benefit for critical outcomes such as mortality and mechanical ventilation. Convalescent plasma had been previously authorized on an emergency basis for all hospitalized patients in August 2020 prior to the approval of COVID-19 vaccines and other treatments, and it was thought to be a major therapeutic breakthrough at the time.

Survey Finds Disparities in Pay by Gender for Doctors

A survey published yesterday in Health Affairs showed that female physicians earn less than male physicians when first beginning their career, with an estimated $2 million gap in pay over a simulated 40-year career. According to The New York Times, the survey of more than 80,000 physicians served as the largest analysis to date on physician salaries, collected between 2014 and 2019, in which male physicians earned an average of $8.3 million over a 40-year career and women made roughly $6.3 million—a nearly 25% difference. Gender pay disparities were shown to differ across specialties, with gaps highest among surgeons ($2.5 million) and lowest for primary care physicians ($920,000).