News from Bioethics.com

After 13 Tons of Human Hair Products Seized, US Warns About Importing from Xinjiang, China

1 day 2 hours

(ABC News) – Several branches of the U.S. government on Wednesday warned private companies against using supply chains tied to forced labor camps in China’s Xinjiang province. The advisory was issued shortly after U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) authorities in Newark, New Jersey, seized about $800,000 worth imported goods from China, including human hair products.

How Can We Ban Facial Recognition When It’s Already Everywhere?

4 days 5 hours

(Vox) – Facial recognition is having a reckoning. Recent protests against racism and police brutality have shined a light on the surveillance tools available to law enforcement, and major tech companies are temporarily backing away from facial recognition and urging federal officials to step in and regulate. 

A Guide to R–The Pandemic’s Misunderstood Metric

4 days 5 hours

(Nature) – But fascination might have turned into unhealthy political and media fixation, say disease experts. R is an imprecise estimate that rests on assumptions, says Jeremy Rossman, a virologist at the University of Kent, UK. It doesn’t capture the current status of an epidemic and can spike up and down when case numbers are low. It is also an average for a population and therefore can hide local variation. 

Quadriplegic COVID-19 Patient Dies after Austin Hospital Stops Treatment

4 days 5 hours

(WFAA) – In early June, Michael Hickson was taken to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center from a nursing home. Michael Hickson tested positive for COVID-19. He was also a quadriplegic and incapacitated. The hospital eventually stopped treating him. About a week after he got there, he died. Michael’s wife, Melissa Hickson, recorded a conversation with the doctor, who explained why.”Will it affect his quality, will it improve his quality of life?” The doctor asked. “And the answer is no.”

An Experiment in End-of-Life Care: Tapping AI’s Cold Calculus to Nudge the Most Human of Conversations

5 days 1 hour

(STAT News) – Hospitals and clinics are running into thorny challenges and making weighty judgment calls as they try to weave an algorithm with such momentous implications into the fabric of a clinical team’s already complex and frenetic workflow, a STAT examination found. STAT spoke with 15 clinicians, researchers, developers, and experts in AI and palliative care to understand how such AI models are being deployed at Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, and a community oncology practice near Seattle — and how they might be received by patients and providers if they’re rolled out more widely.

Here’s What Recovery from Covid-19 May Look Like for Many Survivors

5 days 23 hours

(New York Times) – Hundreds of thousands of seriously ill coronavirus patients who survive and leave the hospital are facing a new and difficult challenge: recovery. Many are struggling to overcome a range of troubling residual symptoms, and some problems may persist for months, years or even the rest of their lives. Patients who are returning home after being hospitalized for severe respiratory failure from the virus are confronting physical, neurological, cognitive and emotional issues.

Covid-19 Vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech Shows Positive Results

6 days 11 min

(STAT News) – An experimental Covid-19 vaccine being developed by the drug giant Pfizer and the biotech firm BioNTech spurred immune responses in healthy patients, but also caused fever and other side effects, especially at higher doses. The first clinical data on the vaccine were disclosed Wednesday in a paper released on medRXiv, a preprint server, meaning it has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a journal.

US Gets Almost All of the World’s Supply of Key Covid-19 Drug

6 days 15 min

(CNN) – The United States has been allocated almost all of the next few months’ supply of remdesivir, the only drug that’s known to work directly against Covid-19. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Monday that it had secured 100% of drug-maker Gilead’s projected production for July, and 90% of its production for August and September — plus more for clinical trials.

A Dire Warning from COVID-19 Test Providers

6 days 20 min

(The Atlantic) – The United States is once again at risk of outstripping its COVID-19 testing capacity, an ominous development that would deny the country a crucial tool to understand its pandemic in real time. The American testing supply chain is stretched to the limit, and the ongoing outbreak in the South and West could overwhelm it, according to epidemiologists and testing-company executives. While the country’s laboratories have added tremendous capacity in the past few months—the U.S. now tests about 550,000 people each day, a fivefold increase from early April—demand for viral tests is again outpacing supply.

Federal Officials Turn to a New Testing Strategy as Infections Surge

6 days 31 min

(New York Times) – The Trump administration plans to adopt a decades-old testing strategy that will vastly increase the number of coronavirus tests performed in the United States and permit widespread tracking of the virus as it surges across the country. The method, called pooled testing, signals a paradigm shift. Instead of carefully rationing tests to only those with symptoms, pooled testing would enable frequent surveillance of asymptomatic people. Mass identification of coronavirus infections could hasten the reopening of schools, offices and factories.

Researchers Debate Infecting People on Purpose to Test Coronavirus Vaccines

6 days 34 min

(New York Times) – One way to quickly see if a coronavirus vaccine works would be to immunize healthy people and then deliberately expose them to the virus, some researchers are suggesting. Proponents say this strategy, called a human challenge trial, could save time because rather than conducting tests the usual way — by waiting for vaccinated people to encounter the virus naturally — researchers could just infect them.

Global COVID-19 Prevention Trial of Hydroxychloroquine to Resume

6 days 2 hours

(Medscape) – A global trial designed to test whether the anti-malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can prevent infection with COVID-19 is to restart after being approved by British regulators. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) took its decision on what is known as the COPCOV trial after hydroxychloroquine was found in another British trial to have no benefit as a treatment for patients already infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus

F.B.I. Warns of Fraudulent Coronavirus Antibody Tests

1 week 5 hours

(New York Times) – The F.B.I. has issued a warning about scammers who advertise fraudulent Covid-19 antibody tests as a way to obtain personal information that can be used for identity theft or medical insurance fraud. The warning, issued Friday, is the latest in a series of alerts from the federal government about fraudulent exploitation of the coronavirus pandemic.

Austin Hospital Withheld Treatment from Disabled Man Who Contracted Coronavirus

1 week 5 hours

(The Texan) – Michael Hickson, husband to Melissa and father of five children, died at age 46 on Thursday, June 11 at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center after the hospital withheld treatment from him, including hydration and nutrition, for six days. His wife was not notified of his death until the next morning after his remains had already been transported to a funeral home without her permission.

Split High Court Throws Out Louisiana Abortion Clinic Limit

1 week 5 hours

(Associated Press) – A divided Supreme Court on Monday struck down a Louisiana law regulating abortion clinics, reasserting a commitment to abortion rights over fierce opposition from dissenting conservative justices in the first big abortion case of the Trump era. Chief Justice John Roberts and his four more liberal colleagues ruled that a law that requires doctors who perform abortions must have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals violates abortion rights the court first announced in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

China Cuts Uighur Births with IUDs, Abortion, Sterilization

1 week 5 hours

(Associated Press) – The Chinese government is taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population, even as it encourages some of the country’s Han majority to have more children. While individual women have spoken out before about forced birth control, the practice is far more widespread and systematic than previously known, according to an AP investigation based on government statistics, state documents and interviews with 30 ex-detainees, family members and a former detention camp instructor.

Most People with Coronavirus Won’t Spread It. Why Do a Few Infect Many?

1 week 6 hours

(New York Times) – As strange as it may seem, these reports don’t contradict each other. Most infected people don’t pass on the coronavirus to someone else. But a small number pass it on to many others in so-called superspreading events. “You can think about throwing a match at kindling,” said Ben Althouse, principal research scientist at the Institute for Disease Modeling in Bellevue, Wash. “You throw one match, it may not light the kindling. You throw another match, it may not light the kindling. But then one match hits in the right spot, and all of a sudden the fire goes up.”

Gilead Announces Long-Awaited Price for Covid-19 Drug Remdesivir

1 week 1 day

(STAT News) – For all governments in the developed world, including the U.S. government’s Indian Health Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Gilead will charge $2,340 for a five-day course. U.S. insurers, in addition to Medicare and Medicaid, will pay 33% more, or $3,120. Countries in the developing world will get the drug at greatly reduced prices through generic manufacturers to which Gilead has licensed production.

Researchers Report Nearly 300 Cases of Inflammatory Syndrome Tied to Covid-19 in Kids

1 week 1 day

(STAT News) – Two U.S. research groups have reported finding nearly 300 cases of an alarming apparent side effect of Covid-19 in children, a condition called multisystem inflammation syndrome, or MIS-C. While researchers have previously reported on the condition, the papers mark the first attempt to measure how frequently the side effect occurs and how it affects children who develop it.

It’s Time for an End-of-Life Discussion About Nursing Homes

1 week 1 day

(Wired) – Some of the most shocking stories of coronavirus come from one particular setting: nursing homes. People unable to contact their parents or loved ones; bodies piled up in makeshift morgues; nurses without protective equipment abandoning their posts; those who are still alive left alone in squalor for days. It’s not hard to see why the deadly pathogen hits these places hard. Residents are usually old and often immunocompromised; they’re housed in close quarters; and they share community and dining spaces. Indeed, the AARP estimates that at least 43,000 nursing home residents and staff have already died from Covid-19, which would represent about one-third of all known pandemic deaths in the United States. 

The Prison Was Built to Hold 1,500 Inmates. It Had Over 2,000 Coronavirus Cases.

1 week 3 days

(ProPublica) – Nationwide, Marion ranked as the largest recorded coronavirus outbreak of any U.S. institution in a New York Times analysis. Three other prisons, including another packed one in Scotia Township, Ohio, were in the top five. The fifth is the Smithfield pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. With fears that a second wave of infection will erupt in the fall, some state corrections officials are realizing the coronavirus is a wake-up call, forcing them to confront the problem of prison overcrowding. They’re considering how to achieve social distancing in confined spaces, where inmates are unable to do the only thing that has proven effective in stopping the viral spread.

A Coronavirus Vaccine Is Still Months Away, But an Antibody Treatment Could Be Closer

1 week 3 days

(CNN) – Vaccines have gotten all the attention in the race to fight Covid-19, but there is a major push in the United States to develop antibody therapies to treat coronavirus. There’s so much of a push that some scientists think these treatments may be available this year, even before a vaccine. Antibodies are the proteins the body makes to fight infection. Since the Victorian era, scientists have harnessed this natural protection for treatments. 

FEMA Ordered $10.2 Million in COVID-19 Testing Kits It’s Now Warning States Not to Use

1 week 3 days

(ProPublica) – The Federal Emergency Management Agency has warned states not to use COVID-19 testing supplies it bought under a $10.2 million contract after a ProPublica investigation last week showed the vendor was providing contaminated and unusable mini soda bottles. A FEMA spokeswoman said the agency is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to analyze test tubes filled with saline and sold to the government by Fillakit LLC, whose warehouse is near Houston.

Texas, at Center of New US Coronavirus Surge, Pauses Reopening

1 week 3 days

(Medscape) – The governor of Texas temporarily halted the state’s reopening on Thursday as COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations surged in the state and new daily cases around the country climbed to a near-record high. Texas, which has been at the forefront of efforts to reopen devastated economies shut down in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, has seen one of the biggest jumps in new cases, reporting over 6,000 in a single day on Monday.

US Demand Outstripping Supply of Steroid Treatment for COVID

1 week 3 days

(Medscape) – Soaring hospital demand for the steroid dexamethasone, which British researchers say significantly reduces mortality among severely ill COVID-19 patients, is outstripping supply of the drug, but hospitals have so far been able to treat patients out of their inventories, according to Vizient Inc, a drug buyer for about half of U.S. hospitals.

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