News from Bioethics.com

Beijing on Edge as City Adds New Quarantine Centers

2 days 4 hours

(Associated Press) – Residents of some parts of China’s capital were emptying supermarket shelves and overwhelming delivery apps Friday as the city government ordered faster construction of COVID-19 quarantine centers and field hospitals.  Uncertainty and scattered, unconfirmed reports of lockdowns in at least some Beijing districts have fueled demand for food and other supplies, something not seen in the city for months. (Read More)

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They Wanted a Baby, Then Twitter Fired Them

2 days 5 hours

(Wired) – Jane started the process of IVF under the Carrot benefit scheme—as she was entitled to as a Twitter employee. But the process takes time: A battery of tests investigate the reason why someone can’t conceive naturally, then recommend a path to enable the person to try and have a child. The IVF treatment itself works at a measured pace, in part to ensure that those undergoing it can have counseling between appointments. And Jane, alongside other colleagues, is now trapped partway through the treatment cycle. When their employment stops, their health cover stops. (Read More)

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Ukrainian Hospital Stymied Russians with Defiant Doctors and a Fake Covid Outbreak

2 days 5 hours

(Wall Street Journal) – The first time Russian soldiers came to Tropinka Hospital, they told Leonid Remiga, the hospital’s chief physician, to take down the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag hanging over the main entrance. He refused.

“You can shoot me if you want,” 68-year-old Dr. Remiga recalls saying, “but I’m not going to do it.”

The Russians left without insisting. But that meeting on March 7, days after Russia seized this southern city, was the start of a battle for control of the hospital that raged through the entire occupation. The Russians detained two doctors, banned Ukrainian symbols and put hand-picked people in charge. To thwart them, the staff faked a Covid-19 outbreak, hid equipment and spied for Ukrainian forces. (Read More)

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Experimental Flu Vaccine, Developed Using mRNA, Seen as Potential Game Changer

2 days 5 hours

(STAT News) – An experimental influenza vaccine developed using messenger RNA technology appears capable of inducing what should be a protective immune response against all known subtypes of flu, at least in animals. If the work is translated into humans it could turn out to be a version of a long-sought universal vaccine. (Read More)

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China’s Xinjiang Region Has Been Locked Down for Months, Casting Shadow Over Zero-Covid Easing

2 days 5 hours

(Wall Street Journal) – As Covid-19 cases trigger a fresh wave of lockdowns in China’s major cities, those living in towns across the country’s remote western region of Xinjiang say they have been enduring a lockdown that has lasted months and local officials have largely kept quiet. Local authorities started ordering residents to stay home after Covid clusters began spreading around Xinjiang in early August. The region’s main cities shut down transportation, trapping some summer tourists until the start of winter. The restrictions remain in many parts of the region as officials struggle to implement orders from Beijing to be more precise in applying Covid controls. (Read More)

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WHO, CDC: A Record 40 Million Kids Miss Measles Vaccine Dose

2 days 5 hours

(Associated Press) – The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say measles immunization has dropped significantly since the coronavirus pandemic began, resulting in a record high of nearly 40 million children missing a vaccine dose last year. In a report issued Wednesday, the WHO and the CDC said millions of children were now susceptible to measles, among the world’s most contagious diseases. In 2021, officials said there were about 9 million measles infections and 128,000 deaths worldwide. (Read More)

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Shortages of Antivirals, Antibiotics Compound Stress of a Rough Season for Viral Illnesses in Kids

4 days 6 hours

(CNN) – The cause of these shortages doesn’t seem to be a manufacturing problem, says Michael Ganio, senior director of pharmacy practice and quality for the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.  “It’s just increased demand ahead of schedule and higher than usual,” he said. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of US states have “high” or “very high” respiratory virus activity. Most of that is due to influenza, which hit early and hard this year. Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is also playing a role. (Read More)

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Protesting Workers Beaten at Chinese iPhone Factory

4 days 6 hours

(Associated Press) – Police beat workers protesting over a pay dispute at the biggest factory for Apple’s iPhone, whose new model is delayed by controls imposed as China tries to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases. Foxconn, the biggest contract assembler of smartphones and other electronics, is struggling to fill orders for the iPhone 14 after thousands of employees walked away from the factory in the central city of Zhengzhou last month following complaints about unsafe working conditions. (Read More)

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Will Flu and RSV Always Be This Bad?

4 days 7 hours

(The Atlantic) – The experts I spoke with are mostly optimistic that these cataclysmic infection rates won’t become an autumn norm. But they also don’t yet fully understand the factors that have been driving this year’s surge, making it tough to know with certainty whether we’re due for an encore.

One way or another, COVID has certainly thrown the typical end-of-year schedule out of whack. Respiratory viruses typically pick up speed in late fall, peak in mid-to-late winter, and then bow out by the spring; they often run in relay, with one microbe surging a bit before another. This year, though, nearly every pathogen arrived early, cresting in overlapping waves. (Read More)

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Too Far, Too Old, Too Few: Europe Is Running Out of Doctors

4 days 7 hours

(Politico) – Le Vigan, which has a population of about 4,000 and nestles in a valley at the southern end of the Massif Central, is not the only French town struggling to attract doctors. But the scale of the challenges it faces is emblematic of a Europe-wide crisis in which doctors are too far, too few or too old. (Read More)

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FDA Approves Gene Therapy for Hemophilia

4 days 7 hours

(Axios) – The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved a gene therapy for hemophilia — the latest in a series of decisions to advance pricey, personalized treatments that bring new hope to patients, along with cost concerns to the health system. Why it matters: With a list price of $3.5 million, Hemgenix from CSL Behring LLC will become the most expensive therapy in the world. (Read More)

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Groundbreaking CRISPR Treatment for Blindness Only Works for Subset of Patients

5 days 7 hours

(Science) – After some early but cautious optimism, a company is shelving its pioneering gene-editing treatment for a rare inherited blindness disorder. Editas Medicine announced today the trial trying to use the gene editor CRISPR to treat Leber congenital amaurosis 10 (LCA10) led to “clinically meaningful” vision improvements in only three of 14 patients. In the study, patients received a subretinal injection of a modified virus carrying genetic material encoding components of CRISPR, a DNA-cleaving enzyme, and two RNA strands to guide the protein to its target sequences. (Read More)

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Inside the Mind of an Anti-Paxxer

5 days 7 hours

(The Atlantic) – Paxlovid is a paradoxlovid. The game-changing antiviral swooped in during the pandemic’s worst winter with the promise of slowing COVID deaths to a trickle. But since it became widely available this spring, death rates have hardly budged. According to the White House, the problem is not the drug but the fact that too few people are taking it. A recent CDC report found that from April to July, less than one-third of America’s 80-plus-year-olds with COVID ended up taking Paxlovid, even though they had the most to gain from doing so. (Read More)

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America Shrugs Off Its Twindemic

5 days 7 hours

(Axios) – The much-feared twindemic — or even tripledemic — of respiratory viruses is here, but Americans are too COVID-fatigued to care. The big picture: Flu in the southeast and RSV infections in multiple regions are filling up hospital wards and causing some facilities to cancel elective surgeries and bring back triage tents. Though less lethal than COVID-19, the viruses pose a major threat to children and immunocompromised adults. And we’re just in November, with the threat of new COVID variants still looming as people plan indoor gatherings and firm up holiday travel. (Read More)

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China Anti-Virus Curbs Spur Fears of Global Economic Impact

5 days 7 hours

(Associated Press) – More than 253,000 coronavirus cases have been found in China in the past three weeks and the daily average is rising, the government said Tuesday, adding to pressure on officials who are trying to reduce economic damage by easing controls that confine millions of people to their homes. The ruling Communist Party promised earlier this month to reduce disruptions from its “zero- COVID” strategy by making controls more flexible. But the latest wave of outbreaks is challenging that, prompting major cities including Beijing to close off populous districts, shut stores and offices and ordered factories to isolate their workforces from outside contact. (Read More)

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Real-World Data Show Updated Covid-19 Boosters Increase Protection Against Infection

5 days 7 hours

(STAT News) – The updated Covid-19 boosters increase people’s protection against symptomatic infection from the coronavirus, according to some of the first estimates of how the shot is performing in the real world and in people, not just in lab experiments. What’s more, that protection was even stronger when people waited a longer period of time since their last dose of the original shot. (Read More)

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One-Third of U.S. Labs Have Stopped Using Race-Based Equations to Diagnose Kidney Disease

5 days 7 hours

(STAT News) – For decades, health care providers have diagnosed kidney disease with blood tests that use an equation for estimating glomerular filtration rate, or eGFR — a number that acts a proxy for how much blood the kidneys clean every minute. Until recently, the eGFR equation has included a coefficient for race to “correct” for different levels of creatinine (a waste product released from muscles) in African Americans. This adjustment was based on the incorrect assumption that Black people have higher muscle mass. Black people were therefore assumed to have higher baseline eGFR levels, which could in turn mark them at a less advanced stage of kidney disease even when their numbers are the same as a non-Black person’s. (Read More)

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U.K. Analysis Shows One Dose of Monkeypox Vaccine Yields Strong Protection

5 days 7 hours

(STAT News) – An analysis released Tuesday by U.K. health officials indicates that even one dose of the monkeypox vaccine provides strong protection against the virus. Researchers at the U.K. Health Security Agency estimated that one dose of the vaccine was 78% effective at protecting against infection 14 or more days after vaccination. (Read More)

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Will Covid Boosters Prevent Another Wave? Scientists Aren’t So Sure.

6 days 1 hour

(New York Times) – Older adults, immunocompromised people and pregnant women should get the booster shots, because they offer extra protection against severe disease and death, said John Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. But the picture is less clear for healthy Americans who are middle-aged and younger. They are rarely at risk of severe illness or death from Covid, and at this point most have built immunity through multiple vaccine doses, infections or both. The newer variants, called BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, are spreading quickly, and boosters seem to do little to prevent infections with these viruses, as they are excellent evaders of immunity. (Read More)

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People Don’t Mate Randomly–But the Flawed Assumption That They Do Is an Essential Part of Many Studies Linking Genes to Diseases and Traits

6 days 1 hour

(The Conversation) – But what about correlations involving genes? How can researchers be sure that a particular trait or disease is truly genetically linked, and not caused by something else? We are statistical geneticists who study the genetic and nongenetic factors that influence human variation. In our recently published research, we found that the genetic links between traits found in many studies might not be connected by genes at all. Instead, many are a result of how humans mate. (Read More)

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This Copyright Lawsuit Could Shape the Future of Generative AI

6 days 1 hour

(Wired) – A class-action lawsuit filed in a federal court in California this month takes aim at GitHub Copilot, a powerful tool that automatically writes working code when a programmer starts typing. The coder behind the suit argue that GitHub is infringing copyright because it does not provide attribution when Copilot reproduces open-source code covered by a license requiring it. The lawsuit is at an early stage, and its prospects are unclear because the underlying technology is novel and has not faced much legal scrutiny. But legal experts say it may have a bearing on the broader trend of generative AI tools. (Read More)

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Turns Out Fighting Mosquitoes with Mosquitoes Actually Works

6 days 1 hour

(Wired) – The Aedes aegypti mosquito is not just a nuisance—it’s a known carrier of dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya, and Zika viruses. Distinguished by the black and white stripes on its legs, the species is one of the most dangerous to humans. In the Brazilian city of Indaiatuba, an effort is underway to eliminate these pests before they have a chance to spread illness. The weapon: more Aedes aegypti mosquitoes—but ones genetically engineered to kill their own kind. Made by British biotechnology firm Oxitec, the mosquitoes seem to be working. (Read More)

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F.D.A. Approves a Drug That Can Delay Type 1 Diabetes

6 days 1 hour

(New York Times) – The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first treatment that can delay — possibly for years — the onset of Type 1 diabetes, a disease that often emerges in teenagers. The new drug, teplizumab, is made by Provention Bio, which will partner with Sanofi to market the drug in the United States under the brand name Tzield. In an investor call on Friday, Provention said the drug would cost $13,850 a vial or $193,900 for the 14-day treatment. The company said teplizumab should be available by the end of the year. (Read More)

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Anti-Abortion Groups Seek to Overturn FDA Approval of Abortion Pill

6 days 1 hour

(Politico) – A group of anti-abortion organizations sued HHS and the FDA on Friday in a bid to reverse the FDA’s approval of the abortion medication mifepristone. Lawyers from the conservative Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Amarillo on behalf of the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Pediatricians, the Christian Medical & Dental Associations and four doctors. (Read More)

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Vending Machines Dispense Narcan to Reverse Opioid Overdoses

6 days 1 hour

(Wall Street Journal) – Vending machines stocked with overdose-reversing nasal spray are part of the latest attempt to diminish a record tide of drug deaths. The Food and Drug Administration and some states have loosened restrictions on drugs including Narcan that are sprayed into the nose to reverse an opioid overdose. Nonprofits that work with opioid users are distributing more of the drugs as a result. Getting Narcan as close as possible to people at risk for an overdose is essential to saving lives, they said. (Read More)

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