News from Bioethics.com

Parents Are Hiring Jets to See Their Surrogate Children for the First Time

3 weeks 2 days

(Wired UK) – Every year, thousands of prospective parents from all over the world travel to countries such as Ukraine, Canada, Georgia and the US to carry out surrogacies. Having a baby abroad is a complicated legal process at the best of times and coronavirus has only made things more challenging. With many governments now ruling that travel should only be undertaken in life-or-death circumstances, intended parents with offspring due in far-flung places have to make new arrangements.

Organ Transplantations Dropped Sharply During the Coronavirus Pandemic, Study Finds

3 weeks 3 days

(CNN) – During the coronavirus pandemic, the number of organ transplantations fell dramatically, according to a study published Monday.  In early April, the number of deceased donor organ transplants dropped by 51.1% in the United States and 90.6% in France when compared to a month earlier, the study said. Kidney transplantations had the greatest decrease in numbers, but heart, lung and liver transplantations also had substantial reductions, the authors said.

Midwives Face Fear and New Challenges as the Coronavirus Spreads in Africa

3 weeks 3 days

(CNN) – When midwife Philomena Owusu Domfe gets up for work every day she is scared. Domfe has been at the Ridge Hospital in Accra, Ghana’s capital city, for eight years. Now each day she shows up to work, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in her country grows.  Ghana had more than 4,200 confirmed cases and 22 deaths resulting from the virus as of May 12. And while social distancing is prescribed by the World Health Organization as a key defense against the spread of Covid-19, Domfe said it’s difficult when proximity with her patients and their newborns is a job requirement. 

World Health Assembly Draft Resolution Boost Access to Covid-19 Medicines

3 weeks 3 days

(STAT News) – World Health Assembly negotiators have agreed on a draft resolution that ensures countries can navigate patent rights for Covid-19 medical products, a victory for those supporting wider access to drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines. Although the language could still change, the document mentions a voluntary pool, which would collect patent rights, regulatory test data, and other information that could be shared for developing medical products.

Record Death Tolls in Mexico and Brazil Add to Fears of Covid-19 Surge in Latin America

3 weeks 3 days

(The Guardian) – Brazil and Mexico have logged their highest single-day coronavirus death tolls to date, raising fears the pandemic is surging across Latin America amid ambivalent and delayed reactions from the governments of its two most populous countries. In Brazil – where the president, Jair Bolsonaro, has dismissed the virus as “a little flu” – the health ministry reported a new grim record of 881 deaths in 24 hours on Tuesday night. It has now confirmed 12,461 deaths, the sixth-highest death toll in the world, and 178,214 cases. Mexico also reached a new landmark on Tuesday night, reporting 353 new deaths over the previous 24 hours and 1,997 new confirmed cases.

New Inflammatory Condition in Children Probably Linked to Coronavirus, Study Finds

3 weeks 3 days

(New York Times) – As concerns mount over children with a serious and potentially deadly inflammatory condition, a new study sheds light on the illness’s distinctive characteristics and provides the strongest evidence yet that the syndrome is linked to the coronavirus. The condition, called pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, has been reported in about 100 children in New York State, including three who died, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said this week. Cases have been reported in other states, including Louisiana, Mississippi and California, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said it will soon issue an alert asking doctors to report cases of children with symptoms of the syndrome.

Takeda Says Coronavirus Treatment Trial Using Recovered Patients’ Blood Could Start in July

3 weeks 3 days

(Reuters) – Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd could start a clinical trial as early as July for a potential treatment of COVID-19 that is based on antibodies from recovered patients’ blood, company executives said on Wednesday. The clinical trial would include hundreds of patients and take several months to complete. If successful, Japan’s Takeda could file for approval by U.S. authorities this year, said Julie Kim, president of the plasma-derived therapies unit of Takeda. 

Strains in Hard-Hit Mumbai Complicate India’s Virus Recovery

3 weeks 3 days

(ABC News) – As Indians await details of a huge coronavirus relief package Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced to jump-start the economy, the virus outbreak in the financial capital of Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra state is starting to overwhelm hospitals and slums, complicating any economic recovery plan.

‘No Intubation’: Seniors Fearful of COVID-19 Are Changing Their Living Wills

3 weeks 4 days

(Kaiser Health News) – For older adults contemplating what might happen to them during this pandemic, ventilators are a fraught symbol, representing a terrifying lack of personal control as well as the fearsome power of technology. Used for people with respiratory failure, a signature consequence of severe COVID-19, these machines pump oxygen into a patient’s body while he or she lies in bed, typically sedated, with a breathing tube snaked down the windpipe (known as “intubation”). For some seniors, this is their greatest fear: being hooked to a machine, helpless, with the end of life looming. For others, there is hope that the machine might pull them back from the brink, giving them another shot at life.

WHO Conditionally Backs Covid-19 Vaccine Trials That Infect People

3 weeks 4 days

(The Guardian) – Controversial trials in which volunteers are intentionally infected with Covid-19 could accelerate vaccine development, according to the World Health Organization, which has released new guidance on how the approach could be ethically justified despite the potential dangers for participants. So-called challenge trials are a mainstream approach in vaccine development and have been used in malaria, typhoid and flu, but there are treatments available for these diseases if a volunteer becomes severely ill. For Covid-19, a safe dose of the virus has not been established and there are no failsafe treatments if things go wrong.

A Secret Experiment Revealed: In a Medical First, Doctors Treat Parkinson’s with a Novel Brain Cell Transplant

3 weeks 4 days

(STAT News) – It was after midnight on a late summer night in 2017, and they had less than eight hours to get the cells by ambulance, private plane, and another ambulance from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston to Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan. If it took longer, the cells would almost certainly be DOA, and so might the researchers’ plan to carry out an experimental transplant surgery unprecedented in the annals of medicine: replacing the dysfunctional brain cells of a Parkinson’s disease patient with the progeny of an extraordinary type of stem cell. Created in the lab from a patch of the patient’s own skin, these cells, it was hoped, would settle into the brain like they belonged there and permanently restore the patient’s ability to walk and move normally.

With Little Data, Doctors Struggle to Decide Which Covid-19 Patients Should Get Remdesivir

3 weeks 4 days

(STAT News) – Now that the federal government has begun distributing the experimental Covid-19 drug remdesivir, hospitals are in a bind. So far, it’s the only medication that has shown benefit for coronavirus patients in rigorous studies. But there isn’t enough for everyone who’s eligible. That leaves doctors with a wrenching ethical decision: Who gets the drug, and who doesn’t? As if the question wasn’t hard enough on moral grounds alone, it’s made even trickier by a dearth of data: Clinicians still don’t have the fine-grained study results showing which patients are most likely to benefit from the medication.

As Deaths Mount, Coronavirus Testing Remains Wildly Inconsistent in Long-Term Care

3 weeks 4 days

(Kaiser Health News) – As the coronavirus has raced through long-term care centers and killed thousands of America’s most vulnerable seniors, testing has varied widely across facilities, even within the same states and communities. There’s still no federal mandate to test, although President Donald Trump said he’d consider one. Rules about testing, and public reporting of results, differ from state to state and by type of facility. Shortages of test kits linger, and there’s no uniform standard on which entity should do the testing or how often.

Gilead Ties Up with Generic Drugmakers for COVID-19 Drug Supply

3 weeks 4 days

(Reuters) – Gilead Sciences Inc said on Tuesday it has signed non-exclusive licensing pacts with five generic drugmakers based in India and Pakistan to expand the supply of its experimental COVID-19 treatment remdesivir. The pacts allow the companies – Jubilant Life Sciences Ltd, Cipla Ltd , Hetero Labs Ltd, Mylan NV and Ferozsons Laboratories Ltd – to make and sell the drug in 127 countries.

‘A Pretty Scary Thing:’ Kid Illness Tied to Virus Worries NY

3 weeks 4 days

(ABC News) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that New York is now investigating about 100 cases of the syndrome, which affects blood vessels and organs and has symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock. Three children in the state have died and Cuomo advised all hospitals to prioritize COVID-19 testing for children presenting with symptoms.

Doctors Face ‘Nearly an Impossible Situation’ as They Ration Remdesivir

3 weeks 5 days

(CNN) – As coronavirus cases surged across the United States earlier this year, doctors faced a harrowing prospect. Sometime soon, they worried, physicians might have to decide which patients would receive ventilators amid a projected shortage. It’s a crisis Italy faced and one the United States largely avoided. But already, doctors in the US are facing another difficult decision: How to ration limited supplies of an experimental drug shown to be effective against the virus.

HHS Debated Wider Use for Hydroxychloroquine, Official Says

3 weeks 5 days

(Bloomberg) – A request from Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to make an established malaria treatment available for Covid-19 patients set off an internal debate about how to authorize the drug’s use for that purpose, according to a complaint filed by a recent administration official. The Food and Drug Administration ultimately gave hydroxychloroquine an “emergency use authorization” (EUA) allowing doctors in hospitals, under certain conditions, to prescribe the drug for patients with the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

Routine Vaccinations for U.S. Children Have Plummeted During the Covid-19 Pandemic

4 weeks 1 day

(STAT News) – Routine vaccination of children in the United States appeared to have declined dramatically in March and April, in the weeks after Covid-19 was declared a pandemic and the United States government declared a national emergency, a new study published Friday shows.

Some Ethical Guidelines for Controlled Human COVID-19 Infection Studies on Human Volunteers

4 weeks 1 day

(Medical Xpress) – A panel of experts led by Northwestern University bioethicist Seema Shah has published a Policy Forum paper in the journal Science outlining what they describe as an ethical way to test possible COVID-19 vaccines on human volunteers. Such testing would involve exposing the volunteers to the virus after inoculation to see if it prevents an infection.

Hong Kong Saliva Tests for Travelers Bring Bioethics into Question

4 weeks 1 day

(Macao Daily Times) – In the global battle to curb Covid-19, governments have collected troves of data from testing and contact-tracing apps to try to find the disease and stop its spread. Even as many are willing to surrender personal information amid the crisis, privacy experts worry about who controls the data and what will happen to it after the crisis ends.

A Flood of Coronavirus Apps Are Tracking Us. Now It’s Time to Keep Track of Them.

1 month 8 hours

(MIT Technology Review) – As the covid-19 pandemic rages, technologists everywhere have been rushing to build apps, services, and systems for contact tracing: identifying and notifying all those who come in contact with a carrier. Some are lightweight and temporary, while others are pervasive and invasive: China’s system, for example, sucks up data including citizens’ identity, location, and even online payment history so that local police can watch for those who break quarantine rules. Some services are being produced locally by small groups of coders, while others are vast, global operations. Apple and Google are mobilizing huge teams to build their upcoming systems that notify people of potential exposure, which could be used by hundreds of millions of people almost immediately.

India Is Forcing People to Use Its Covid App, Unlike Any Other Democracy

1 month 8 hours

(MIT Technology Review) – The world has never seen anything quite like Aarogya Setu. Two months ago, India’s app for coronavirus contact tracing didn’t exist; now it has nearly 100 million users. Prime Minister Narendra Modi boosted it on release by urging every one of the country’s 1.3 billion people to download it, and the result was that within two weeks of launch it became the fastest app ever to reach 50 million downloads. “We beat Pokémon Go,” says a smiling Arnab Kumar, who is leading development of the service for the Indian government. But although the app’s growth is unprecedented, it is extraordinary in an even more important way: if you don’t install it, you might lose your job, get fined, or go to jail.

Autopsy Slowdown Hinders Quest to Determine How Coronavirus Kills

1 month 8 hours

(Nature) – Autopsies are painstaking work under normal conditions; during an infectious-disease outbreak, the added risk calls for safety precautions that make them even more arduous. Since 16 March, Gianatti’s team has performed 80 autopsies of people who tested positive for the coronavirus. The group typically handles only 150 autopsies in a year. Few hospitals in Italy have the safety equipment and resources to launch a similar undertaking, Gianatti says.

Three Potential Futures for Covid-19: Recurring Small Outbreaks, a Monster Wave, or a Persistent Crisis

1 month 8 hours

(STAT News) – As epidemiologists attempt to scope out what Covid-19 has in store for the U.S. this summer and beyond, they see several potential futures, differing by how often and how severely the no-longer-new coronavirus continues to wallop humankind. But while these scenarios diverge on key details how much transmission will decrease over the summer, for instance, and how many people have already been infected (and possibly acquired immunity) — they almost unanimously foresee a world that, even when the current outbreak temporarily abates, looks and feels nothing like the world of just three months ago.

To Find a Coronavirus Vaccine Can We Ethically Infect People with a Disease with No Cure?

1 month 8 hours

(U.S.A Today) – Vaccine trials can take decades. In the race against COVID-19, we don’t even have years. To have a vaccine by next summer will require both luck and cutting corners never cut before, putting once seemingly academic questions about vaccine testing suddenly front and center. Current rules are meant to protect volunteers from harm, but with the global death count from the coronavirus over 250,000, scientists are asking: Is it acceptable to deliberately infect healthy people with a disease that could kill them, and for which there is no cure?

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