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When can we stop wearing masks outside? Are we ever getting a permanent FDA commissioner? And is curing disease a good business?

We cover all that and more this week on “The Readout LOUD,” STAT’s biotech podcast. First, Northwestern University epidemiologist Mercedes Carnethon joins us to weigh on the nation’s latest Covid-19 debate: Is it OK to go maskless outdoors? Then, STAT Washington correspondent Nicholas Florko calls in to talk about why the Biden administration is waiting so long to nominate an FDA commissioner and how that indecision could have real consequences. Later, we discuss the scientific promise of novel treatments for sickle cell disease — and the industry’s growing concern that they might not be as lucrative as once thought. And, naturally, we recap the latest news in the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

For more on what we cover, here’s the latest on the FDA; here’s the news on genome editing for sickle cell disease; here’s more on gene therapy’s commercial prospects; here’s where you can subscribe to the First Opinion Podcast; and here’s our complete coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

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And if you have any feedback for us — topics to cover, guests to invite, vocal tics to cease — you can email [email protected].

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