News from Bioethics.com

Covid Cases Increase Rapidly as Next Steps Planned

2 weeks 1 day

(BBC) – Coronavirus cases in England have “increased rapidly”, data shows, as ministers grapple with what to do next. Estimates suggest between one-in-170 and one-in-240 people you meet in the street has the virus. Both current cases, and the speed at which they are increasing, are much higher in the north of England than the national average. Scientific advisers warn hospital admissions are “very close” to levels in early March.

China Joins COVAX Coronavirus Vaccine Alliance

2 weeks 1 day

(Associated Press) – China, which has at least four coronavirus vaccine candidates in the last stage of clinical trials, said Friday it is joining an international initiative to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to countries worldwide known as COVAX, a move that may help the country find an international market for its coronavirus shots.

Eli Lilly in Deal to Supply COVID-19 Drugs to Low-Income Countries

2 weeks 1 day

(Reuters) – Eli Lilly and Co LLY.N said on Thursday it had entered into an agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for potential supply of its experimental antibody treatments for COVID-19 to low and middle-income countries. As part of the deal, Lilly said it will make antibody therapies available to lower-income countries prior to April 2021, but did not elaborate on the number of doses. Separately, Fujifilm Holdings Corp 4901.T said its facility in Denmark would manufacture treatments next year.

COVID-19 Risk Deemed Low in Intubation, Extubation, Study Suggests

2 weeks 1 day

(Medscape) – Tracheal intubation and extubation may not produce enough aerosols to warrant being designated as procedures associated with high risk for transmission of SARS-CoV-2, researchers say. The researchers’ sampling of particle sizes in operating rooms calls into question the extreme infection protocols that have been mandated in many hospitals since the outbreak of COVID-19.

US Medical Supply Chains Failed, and COVID Deaths Followed

2 weeks 2 days

(ABC News) – The Associated Press and “FRONTLINE” launched a seven-month investigation — filing Freedom of Information Act requests, testing medical masks, interviewing dozens of experts from hard-hit hospitals to the White House — to understand what was behind these critical shortages. Medical supply chains that span oceans and continents are the fragile lifelines between raw materials and manufacturers overseas, and health care workers on COVID-19 front lines in the U.S. As link after link broke, the system fell apart.

‘Rural Surge’ Propels India Toward More Covid-19 Infections Than U.S.

2 weeks 2 days

(New York Times) – “We can’t afford to quarantine,” explained Mr. Deb, a shopkeeper. If anyone else in his family was found positive, they would all be ordered to stay inside, which would mean even more weeks of not working, which would push the family closer to running out of food. The medical team moved on to the next house. But they kept meeting more refusals. The defiance of the coronavirus rules is being reflected across rural India, and it is propelling this nation’s virus caseload toward the No. 1 spot globally. Infections are rippling into every corner of this country of 1.3 billion people. The Indian news media is calling it “The Rural Surge.”

Paris Hospitals on Emergency Footing as Virus Cases Rise

2 weeks 2 days

(Medical Xpress) – Paris region health authorities ordered hospitals to activate emergency measures starting Thursday to cope with fast-rising numbers of COVID-19 patients, who now fill 40% of the region’s intensive care units. 

After a Hospital Stay for Covid, Patients May Face Months of Rehabilitation

2 weeks 2 days

(New York Times) – Even after surviving Covid-19, many patients who were critically ill face long and arduous recoveries, often requiring extensive physical rehabilitation. The problems they encounter are wide ranging. Some patients suffer muscle atrophy, kidney damage or reduced lung capacity, making it difficult for them to leave their homes or get out of bed. Many struggle with cognitive and psychological issues like memory loss, depression and anxiety. Among the most common problems they face are shortness of breath, fatigue, confusion and body aches.

Hard-Hit Peru’s Costly Bet on Cheap COVID-19 Antibody Tests

2 weeks 2 days

(Associated Press) – In March, President Martin Vizcarra took the airwaves to announce he’d signed off on a massive purchase of 1.6 million tests – almost all of them for antibodies. Now, interviews with experts, public purchase orders, import records, government resolutions, patients, and COVID-19 health reports show that the country’s bet on rapid antibody tests went dangerously off course.

Eli Lilly Says Its Monoclonal Antibody Cocktail Is Effective in Treating Covid-19

2 weeks 3 days

(STAT News) – Eli Lilly said Wednesday a monoclonal antibody treatment is effective in reducing levels of the virus that causes Covid-19 in patients, and also appears to prevent patients from visiting the emergency room or hospital. Lilly had previously released results for a similar treatment using one antibody, which experts viewed as promising. But the new results, of a combination of two antibodies, appear, based on limited data provided in a press release, to be more robust.

Saying Human Trials Aren’t Enough, Researchers Call for Comparison of COVID-19 Vaccines in Monkeys

2 weeks 3 days

(Science) – Primate researchers in the United States have banded together in a push for an ambitious monkey study that would do head-to-head comparisons of the leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates. Although 10 candidates are already undergoing large-scale tests in people, proponents of the monkey plan say those clinical trials may not deliver the comprehensive data needed to choose the safest and most effective vaccines. The comparison trial in monkeys, in contrast, could shed light in a matter of weeks on how the candidates stack up on measures including potential side effects, the strength of immune responses they trigger, and how well they protect against infection and disease.

Getting Health Care Was Already Tough in Rural Areas. The Pandemic Has Made It Worse

2 weeks 3 days

(NPR) – Even before the pandemic, the health care systems that serve rural Americans were in decline: rural hospitals were closing their doors, and the medical workforce was shrinking. This year, as the coronavirus outbreak has made its way from major cities to rural America, threats to the rural health care infrastructure have only increased. A new nationwide poll shows that one in every four rural U.S households have been unable to get medical care for serious problems. 

Hospitals That Don’t Report COVID-19 Data Daily Will Get Warning Letter

2 weeks 3 days

(NPR) – The federal government is starting to crack down on the nation’s hospitals for not reporting complete COVID-19 data into a federal data collection system. The enforcement timeline starts Wednesday, said Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, in a call with reporters Tuesday. CMS issued a rule in early September requiring hospitals to report full, daily COVID-19 data to the federal government, including such information as the number of patients and ventilators they have. On Wednesday, CMS is sending letters to hospitals across America alerting many that they have not been in compliance.

SARS-CoV-2 Viral Load Yields Vital Prognostic Information on Hospital Admission

2 weeks 3 days

(Medscape) – Higher viral loads are associated with a greater risk of death in cancer and non-cancer patients admitted to the hospital with COVID-19, report researchers in New York City. “Our study showed that above and beyond just knowing whether a patient is infected with SARS-CoV-2, knowing how much virus is in the respiratory tract can be useful at identifying patients at high risk of a poor outcome when they are admitted to the hospital,” Dr. Michael Satlin of Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian told Reuters Health by email.

As AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 Vaccine Trial Remains on Hold in U.S., Participants Waiting on a Second Dose Are in Limbo

2 weeks 4 days

(STAT News) – The clinical trial participant, who lives in the western U.S., got his first shot in early September — he doesn’t know if he got the actual vaccine or a saline placebo, in line with the study’s double-blinded design — and he had been expecting to get a booster shot about four weeks later. But on Sept. 6, AstraZeneca, which is developing the vaccine with the University of Oxford, placed a halt on its studies of the vaccine around the globe due to safety concerns about a concerning illness in a participant in the U.K.

Immigrants Say They Were Pressured Into Unneeded Surgeries

2 weeks 4 days

(New York Times) – The Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Ga., drew national attention this month after a nurse, Dawn Wooten, filed a whistle-blower complaint claiming that detainees had told her they had had their uteruses removed without their full understanding or consent. Since then, both ICE and the hospital in Irwin County have released data that show that two full hysterectomies have been performed on women detained at Irwin in the past three years. But firsthand accounts are now emerging from detainees, including Ms. Dowe, who underwent other invasive gynecological procedures that they did not fully understand and, in some cases, may not have been medically necessary.

Face Masks: What the Data Say

2 weeks 4 days

(Nature) – Face masks are the ubiquitous symbol of a pandemic that has sickened 35 million people and killed more than 1 million. In hospitals and other health-care facilities, the use of medical-grade masks clearly cuts down transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. But for the variety of masks in use by the public, the data are messy, disparate and often hastily assembled.

Race for Covid-19 Vaccine Slows as Regulators, Top Warp Speed Official Tap the Breaks

2 weeks 4 days

(STAT News) – The Food and Drug Administration released strengthened rules for authorizing any Covid-19 vaccine on an emergency basis. And Moncef Slaoui, co-chair of Operation Warp Speed, revealed that the government’s vaccine fast-tracking effort has urged manufacturers not to apply for emergency use authorization until they have significant amounts of vaccines to deploy.

Trump to Be Discharged from Walter Reed, Doctor Says, But ‘Might Not Be Entirely Out of the Woods’

2 weeks 5 days

(STAT News) – Trump was hospitalized at Walter Reed Friday after experiencing a drop in his oxygen levels that required supplemental oxygen to be given, his medical team and the White House have said. Trump first started feeling symptoms on Thursday, and tested positive for the coronavirus that night. During a briefing Monday, Sean Conley, the president’s lead physician, said that Trump had met criteria for discharge, “though he might not be entirely out of the woods yet.”

Dozens of Hospitals Poised to Defy FDA’s Directive on Covid Plasma

2 weeks 5 days

(CNN) – Dozens of major hospitals across the U.S. are grappling with whether to ignore a federal decision allowing broader emergency use of blood plasma from recovered COVID patients to treat the disease in favor of dedicating their resources to a gold-standard clinical trial that could help settle the science for good. As many as 45 hospitals from coast to coast have expressed interest in collaborating on a randomized, controlled clinical trial sponsored by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said principal investigator Dr. Todd Rice.

Nearly One-Third of Covid Patients in Study Had Altered Mental State

2 weeks 5 days

(New York Times) – Nearly a third of hospitalized Covid-19 patients experienced some type of altered mental function — ranging from confusion to delirium to unresponsiveness — in the largest study to date of neurological symptoms among coronavirus patients in an American hospital system. And patients with altered mental function had significantly worse medical outcomes, according to the study, published on Monday in Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.

Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Appears Safe, Shows Signs of Working in Older Adults: Study

3 weeks 1 day

(Medscape) – Results from an early safety study of Moderna Inc’s coronavirus vaccine candidate in older adults showed that it produced virus-neutralizing antibodies at levels similar to those seen in younger adults, with side effects roughly on par with high-dose flu shots, researchers said on Tuesday.

Mental Illness Tied to Increased Mortality in COVID-19

3 weeks 1 day

(Medscape) – A psychiatric diagnosis for patients hospitalized with COVID-19 is linked to a significantly increased risk for death, new research shows.Investigators found that patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19 and who had been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder had a 1.5-fold increased risk for a COVID-related death in comparison with COVID-19 patients who had not received a psychiatric diagnosis.

Why People with Diabetes Are Being Hit So Hard by Covid-19

3 weeks 1 day

(STAT News) – The numbers are alarming. A Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology study mining 61 million medical records in the U.K. says 30% of Covid-19 deaths occurred in people with diabetes. After accounting for potentially relevant risk factors such as social deprivation, ethnicity, and other chronic medical conditions, the risk of dying from Covid-19 was still almost three times higher for people with type 1 diabetes and almost twice as high for type 2, versus those without diabetes. 

US Panel Tackles Race, Poverty in Virus Vaccine Priorities

3 weeks 1 day

(ABC News) – A U.S. advisory panel made recommendations Friday for who should be first in line to get COVID-19 vaccine, including a plea for special efforts by states and cities to get the shots to low-income minority groups. As expected, the panel recommended health care workers and first responders get first priority when vaccine supplies are limited. The shots should be provided free to all, the panel said. And throughout the vaccine campaign, efforts also should focus on disadvantaged areas to remedy racial health disparities.

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