News from Bioethics.com

France Issues Moratorium on Prion Research After Fatal Brain Disease Strikes Two Lab Workers

3 hours 25 min

(Science) – Five public research institutions in France have imposed a 3-month moratorium on the study of prions—a class of misfolding, infectious proteins that cause fatal brain diseases—after a retired lab worker who handled prions in the past was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), the most common prion disease in humans. An investigation is underway to find out whether the patient, who worked at a lab run by the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE), contracted the disease on the job. If so, it would be the second such case in France in the past few years. In June 2019, an INRAE lab worker named Émilie Jaumain died at age 33, 10 years after pricking her thumb during an experiment with prion-infected mice. Her family is now suing INRAE for manslaughter and endangering life; her illness had already led to tightened safety measures at French prion labs. (Read Full Article)

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Genetic Engineering Test with Mosquitoes ‘May Be Game Changer’ in Eliminating Malaria

3 hours 28 min

(The Guardian) – Scientists have successfully wiped out a population of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes by using a radical form of genetic engineering to render the females infertile – in the most advanced and largest ever test of use of the technology to fight the disease. As well as bringing fresh hope in the fight against one of the world’s biggest killers, the study lays the foundations for further trials of gene-drive technology, which could mean self-destroying mosquitoes being released into the wild within 10 years. (Read Full Article)

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Efficacy of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid Vaccine Slips to 84% After Six Months, Data Show

3 hours 31 min

(STAT News) – The efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech fell from 96% to 84% over six months, according to data released Wednesday, a decline that could fuel Pfizer’s case that a third dose will eventually be required. The data, released in a preprint that has not been reviewed by outside scientists, suggest the vaccine was 91% effective overall at preventing Covid-19 over the course of six months. (Read Full Article)

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CDC Calls for Masks in Schools, Hard-Hit Areas Even If Vaccinated

4 hours 2 min

(Medscape) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) once again is recommending that some Americans wear masks indoors. The agency called today for masks in K-12 school settings and in areas of the United States experiencing high or substantial SARS-CoV-2 transmission, even for the fully vaccinated. The move reverses a controversial announcement the agency made in May 2021 that fully vaccinated Americans could skip wearing a mask in most settings. (Read Full Article)

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Biogen Pulled Aduhelm Paper After JAMA Demanded Edits

4 hours 6 min

(Axios) – Biogen recently submitted a paper to JAMA, a top medical research journal, that analyzed results from the clinical trials of its new Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm. However, Biogen later withdrew the paper because JAMA considered rejecting it unless edits were made, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Why it matters: The FDA’s decision to approve Aduhelm has been mired in controversy; experts say there simply isn’t strong enough data to show the drug works. And it appears medical journal reviewers also weren’t sold on Biogen’s interpretation of the data. (Read Full Article)

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Why Workplace Covid-19 Vaccine Mandates Aren’t Widespread–Yet

4 hours 10 min

(Wall Street Journal) – Some companies, including Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo, have mandated that all workers must get vaccinated or divulge their vaccination status before returning to the office. United Airlines requires Covid-19 vaccines for new employees. Overall, though, Covid-19 vaccine mandates at work remain rare, partly because doing so can be a legal minefield for companies, employment attorneys say. In some cases, mandates have resulted in employee lawsuits and termination of workers. And in a tight labor market, employers also risk losing workers who balk at such requirements. (Read Full Article)

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Saudi Arabia to Impose Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate

1 day 3 hours

(Wall Street Journal) – Saudi Arabia is set to impose one of the world’s most sweeping vaccine mandates in an attempt to combat hesitancy toward the Covid-19 shots in the kingdom, as governments globally try to confront a new surge in cases of the Delta variant. People in Saudi Arabia will need to show proof on a mobile app that they have received at least one vaccine dose to enter public and private institutions beginning Sunday, including schools, shops, malls, markets, restaurants, cafes, concert venues and public transportation. From Aug. 9, Saudi citizens will need two doses to travel abroad. (Read Full Article)

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CDC: Vaccinated People in COVID Hotspots Should Resume Wearing Masks

1 day 4 hours

(Axios) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance on Tuesday recommending that vaccinated people wear masks in indoor, public settings if they are in parts of the U.S. with substantial to high transmission, among other circumstances. (Read Full Article)

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Transplant Patients’ Higher Rate of COVID-19 Breakthroughs Boosts Case for Booster Vaccines

1 day 4 hours

(Science) – Transplant physicians have worried for months that their patients might not be getting the protection they need from COVID-19 vaccines. Studies have already shown that many organ recipients don’t produce coronavirus-fighting antibodies even after two doses of the highly effective messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines—an indication their bodies are unable to mount a strong defense against SARS-CoV-2. A study out today indicates this lack of antibodies is indeed translating to a much higher risk of “breakthrough” cases of COVID-19 among vaccinated transplant recipients. (Read Full Article)

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AMA, 55 Other Groups Urge Healthcare Vax Mandate

1 day 4 hours

(Medscape) – As COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths mount again across the country, the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Nursing Association, and 54 other medical and allied healthcare associations released a joint statement today calling on “all health care and long-term care employers” to require their workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. (Read Full Article)

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Second mRNA Dose Safe After Allergic Reaction to First: Study

1 day 4 hours

(Medscape) – People who experienced an allergic reaction to a first dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines safely tolerated a second dose in a retrospective, multicenter study. The findings, however, contrast with official recommendations on management of an allergic reaction to a first mRNA vaccine dose. (Read Full Article)

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France Passes Law That Makes a Coronavirus Health Pass Required for Dining and Travel

2 days 2 hours

(NPR) – France’s parliament approved a law early Monday requiring special virus passes for all restaurants and domestic travel and mandating vaccinations for all health workers. Both measures have prompted protests and political tensions. President Emmanuel Macron and his government say they are needed to protect vulnerable populations and hospitals as infections rebound and to avoid new lockdowns. (Read Full Article)

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America Is Getting Unvaccinated People All Wrong

2 days 2 hours

(The Atlantic) – Boyd has been talking to underserved communities about COVID-19 vaccines since November, before any were even formally authorized. Together with several partner organizations, she co-developed a national campaign called The Conversation, in which Black and Latino health-care workers provide information (and dispel misinformation) about the vaccines. She has spoken virtually to dozens of community groups, including churches and schools, fielding their questions about the shots. I reached out to Boyd because I wanted to know what she has learned through all these encounters about why some people are still unvaccinated and what to do about it. (Read Full Article)

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S. African Women in Class Action Over Pelvic Mesh

2 days 3 hours

(Medical Xpress) – A dozen women in South Africa are following counterparts in Western countries in suing pharma companies for chronic harm they say was inflicted by implants designed to treat incontinence and other ailments. The polypropylene device, called a trans-vaginal mesh (TVM), is designed to work as an internal support to treat urinary incontinence and displacement of pelvic organs—called prolapse—which most commonly occur after childbirth. (Read Full Article)

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CDC Warns of Person-to-Person Transmission of Resistant Fungus

2 days 3 hours

(The Scientist) – Since its discovery in 2009, Candida auris has emerged as a serious threat to human health. While it can colonize the skin of healthy people without causing symptoms, the fungus also invades the bloodstreams and wounds of vulnerable people, often in health care settings, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of people with these invasive infections die. Last week, the CDC announced more bad news about C. auris: what the agency says is the first evidence that highly drug-resistant strains of the fungus are spreading from person to person. (Read Full Article)

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Moderna Expanding Kids Vaccine Study to Better Assess Safety

2 days 3 hours

(Associated Press) – Moderna said Monday it plans to expand the size of its COVID-19 vaccine study in younger children to better detect rare side effects, such as a type of heart inflammation recently flagged by U.S. health authorities. The company said it is in talks with the Food and Drug Administration to enroll more study participants under age 12. It had intended to test the vaccine in about 7,000 children, with some as young as 6 months. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company said via email it hasn’t decided on how many kids might be added.  (Read Full Article)

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Covid-19 Immunity Wanes, but Third Shot Still Rarely Needed, BioNTech CEO Says

2 days 3 hours

(Wall Street Journal) – Immunity against the coronavirus is waning in people who were fully vaccinated with the shot made by BioNTech SE and Pfizer Inc. PFE 0.31% in January because of the rapidly spreading Delta variant, BioNTech’s chief executive said, confirming data that emerged from Israel last week. But even as antibody levels are dropping seven months after immunization among some vaccine recipients, most of them will remain protected against severe disease and might not yet need a third dose, according to Ugur Sahin, CEO of the German company that invented the vaccine and partnered with Pfizer to develop the product for the global market. (Read Full Article)

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VA Requires COVID-19 Vaccination for Health Care Workers

2 days 3 hours

(Associated Press) – The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday became the first major federal agency to require health care workers to get COVID-19 vaccines, as the aggressive delta variant spreads across the nation and some communities report troubling increases in hospitalizations among unvaccinated people. The VA’s move came on a day when nearly 60 leading medical and health care organizations issued a call for health care facilities to require their workers to get vaccinated. (Read Full Article)

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As Overdoses Surge, a Canadian Province Is Giving Out Drugs

2 days 3 hours

(Wall Street Journal) – The Canadian province of British Columbia is responding to a surge in overdose deaths with a novel strategy: It is giving out opioids. The province’s controversial policy goes further than the methadone treatment programs that are common in the U.S. and Canada. Doctors in the province will now be able to prescribe stronger drugs like hydromorphone, an opioid that is five times more powerful than morphine; Dexedrine, a stimulant for cocaine and methamphetamine users; and tablets of fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid. Health officials and advocates say drugs obtained from pharmacies and clinics are safer alternatives to street drugs, which increasingly are laced with lethal amounts of opioids and tranquilizers. (Read Full Article)

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Want Your Unemployment Benefits? You May Have to Submit to Facial Recognition First

2 days 3 hours

(CNN) – Watkins is one of millions across the United States who are being instructed to use ID[dot]me, along with its facial recognition software, to get their unemployment benefits. A rapidly growing number of US states, including Colorado, California and New York, turned to ID.me in hopes of cutting down on a surge of fraudulent claims for state and federal benefits that cropped up during the pandemic alongside a tidal wave of authentic unemployment claims. As of this month, 27 states’ unemployment agencies had entered contracts with ID[dot]me, according to the company, with 25 of them already using its technology.  (Read Full Article)

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Vaccine Breakthrough Cases Rising with Delta: Here’s What That Means

2 days 3 hours

(Medscape) – Unfortunately, it’s not so simple. Fully vaccinated people continue to be well protected against severe disease and death, even with Delta, but so-called breakthrough cases, where a person gets infected despite being fully vaccinated, are on the rise. Because of that, many experts continue to advise caution, even if fully vaccinated. (Read Full Article)

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‘Disheartened’ Medical Staff Stretched, Again, by COVID-19

5 days 9 hours

(Associated Press) – Soaring hospitalizations of mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients are putting medical staffs in Louisiana under stress for a fourth time, as state officials continue the plea for people to get the shots that can prevent the disease. Hospitalizations were nearing the 1,000 mark as the delta variant becomes the dominant strain of the coronavirus in Louisiana and around the country. Gov. John Bel Edwards prepared to talk about the latest surge Friday afternoon. Louisiana has among the nation’s lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates. (Read Full Article)

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European Agency Clears Moderna Vaccine for Children 12-17

5 days 10 hours

(Associated Press) – The European Medicines Agency on Friday recommended authorizing Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 17, the first time the shot has been authorized for people under 18. The EU drug regulator said research in more than 3,700 children aged 12 to 17 showed that the Moderna vaccine — already given the OK for adults across Europe — produced a comparable antibody response.  Until now, the vaccine made by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech has been the only option for children as young as 12 in North America and Europe. (Read Full Article)

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Study: Chinese COVID Shot May Offer Elderly Poor Protection

5 days 10 hours

(Associated Press) – A new study suggests that a Sinopharm vaccine offers poor protection from COVID-19 among the elderly, raising questions for dozens of countries that have given the Chinese company’s shots to their most vulnerable populations. A survey of blood samples taken from 450 people in Hungary at least two weeks after their second Sinopharm dose found that 90% under 50 years old developed protective antibodies. But the percentage declined with age, and 50% of those over 80 had none. (Read Full Article)

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CDC Panel Updates Info on Rare Side Effect After J&J Vaccine

5 days 10 hours

(Medscape)- Despite recent reports of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) after the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, independent experts who advise the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the use of vaccines agree the benefits of the one-dose shot still outweigh its risks. The company also presented new data suggesting that the shots generate strong immune responses against circulating variants and that antibodies generated by the vaccine stay elevated for at least 8 months. (Read Full Article)

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