News from Bioethics.com

Xinjiang Residents Reportedly Forced to Take Medicine Amid Coronavirus Fight

1 month 3 weeks

(Axios) – Rumors have swirled for months that local authorities pressed residents of Xinjiang, a far northwestern region in China, to take traditional Chinese medicine during the coronavirus pandemic. Now a new report from the Associated Press based on interviews, public notices and social media posts suggests this may be true.

HCWs, First Responders Should Be First to Get COVID-19 Vaccines: Panel

1 month 3 weeks

(Medscape) – Healthcare workers and first responders who are at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19 should be at the front of the line for vaccines when they become available, an independent expert panel tapped by top U.S. health officials said on Tuesday. The draft report, issued by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, recommends vaccines be rolled out in four phases, with the first “Jumpstart” phase focused on managing what is expected to initially be a scarce supply of vaccines.

NIH Panel Counters FDA: No Solid Data on Plasma for COVID-19

1 month 3 weeks

(Medscape) – Current data are insufficient to recommend either for or against using convalescent plasma to treat patients who have COVID-19, the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel said Tuesday. “Convalescent plasma should not be considered standard of care for the treatment of patients with COVID-19,” the committee said.

Health Officials Worry Nation’s Not Ready for COVID-19 Vaccine

1 month 3 weeks

(Kaiser Health News) – Millions of Americans are counting on a COVID-19 vaccine to curb the global pandemic and return life to normal. While one or more options could be available toward the end of this year or early next, the path to delivering vaccines to 330 million people remains unclear for the local health officials expected to carry out the work.“We haven’t gotten a lot of information about how this is going to roll out,” said Dr. Umair Shah, executive director of Texas’ Harris County Public Health department, which includes Houston.

Experts See a Chance for a Covid-19 Vaccine Approval This Fall–If It’s Done Right

1 month 3 weeks

(STAT News) – There is growing concern that the Food and Drug Administration, under political pressure, could approve a Covid-19 vaccine before it has robust safety and efficacy data. The consequences of such a decision could be significant, particularly if the vaccine is ultimately shown to be less effective than early data suggest. But an approval before the completion of large, Phase 3 trials does not have to be problematic. Experts aren’t ruling out the possibility that a vaccine could be cleared this fall if it is very effective.

Covid-19 Deaths Significantly Reduced by Use of Steroids, Analysis Says

1 month 3 weeks

(Wall Street Journal) – A new analysis of several studies in which steroid drugs were used to treat severely ill Covid-19 patients found the drugs significantly helped reduce patient deaths, bolstering earlier, preliminary evidence for the benefit of these medications. In multiple studies involving a total of 1,700 patients, a number of corticosteroids—anti-inflammatory drugs that can damp the effects of an overactive immune system—helped reduce deaths from Covid-19 by about a third, compared with patients who didn’t receive steroids, according to the analysis published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Human Trials of Oxford Coronavirus Vaccine Have Begun in the US

1 month 3 weeks

(New Scientist) – A large trial of a coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford has begun in the US. With similar trials already under way in the UK and Brazil, hopes are rising that we could find out if the vaccine works before the end of the year. A collaboration between the Oxford team and the drug firm AstraZeneca, this vaccine is one of the front-runners. Worldwide, eight other coronavirus vaccines have started large-scale trials, and 24 have begun smaller trials to assess safety.

Can Europe Tame the Pandemic’s Next Wave?

1 month 3 weeks

(Science) – We’re at risk of gambling away our success,” virologist Christian Drosten warned in the German newspaper Die Zeit earlier this month. His message referred to Germany, but it could have been addressed to all of Europe. After beating back COVID-19 in the spring, most of Europe is seeing a resurgence. Spain is reporting close to 10,000 cases a day, more than it had at the height of the outbreak in the spring. France is back to reporting thousands of cases a day. In Germany, numbers are still low, but rising steadily. The pandemic is affecting countries that saw few cases in the spring, such as Greece and Malta, but is also rebounding in places that suffered terribly, including the cities of Madrid and Barcelona.

Undocumented with COVID-19: Many Face a Long Recovery, Largely on Their Own

1 month 3 weeks

(NPR) – Latinos are more likely to deal with a more severe illness from COVID-19 — and when they’re undocumented, they’re less likely to be able to get the medical care they need to address it. It’s hard to track how many undocumented immigrants get COVID-19. But they are high risk, says David Hayes-Bautista, who directs the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

How Many People Has the Coronavirus Killed?

1 month 3 weeks

(Science) – Experts worry that simple reports of excess deaths have led to premature or faulty comparisons of countries’ pandemic responses, and have largely ignored the situation in low- and middle-income countries owing to a lack of data. There are more sophisticated ways to categorize mortality to find out how many people were killed as a direct result of infection with SARS-CoV-2, and how many deaths happened because of other factors associated with the pandemic

In China’s Xinjiang, Forced Medication Accompanies Lockdown

1 month 3 weeks

(NBC) – The government in China’s far northwest Xinjiang region is resorting to draconian measures to combat the coronavirus, including spraying detainees with acidic disinfectant, physically locking residents in homes, imposing strict quarantines of more than 40 days and arresting those who do not comply. Furthermore, in what experts call a breach of medical ethics, some residents are being coerced into swallowing traditional Chinese medicine despite a lack of rigorous clinical data proving it works, according to government notices, social media posts, and interviews with three people in quarantine in Xinjiang.

First U.S. COVID-19 Reinfection Case Identified in Nevada Study

1 month 3 weeks

(Medscape) – Researchers for the first time have identified someone in the United States who was reinfected with the novel coronavirus, according to a study that has not yet been reviewed by outside experts.

America Is Running Low on a Crucial Resource for COVID-19 Vaccines

1 month 3 weeks

(The Atlantic) – In the past seven months, more than 100 COVID-19 vaccines, therapies, and drugs have been pushed into development. But for any of these treatments to make it to humans, they usually have to face another animal first: a monkey. And here, scientists in the United States say they are facing a bottleneck. There just aren’t enough monkeys to go around.

Plan to Expand Global Access to Covid-19 Vaccines Nears Fish-or-Cut Bait Moment

1 month 3 weeks

(STAT News) – The coming few weeks represent a crucial moment for an ambitious plan to try to secure Covid-19 vaccines for roughly 170 countries around the world without the deep pockets to compete for what will be scarce initial supplies. Under the plan, countries that want to pool resources to buy vaccines must notify the World Health Organization and other organizers — Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, as well as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations — of their intentions by Monday. That means it’s fish-or-cut-bait time for the so-called COVAX facility.

Dermatology Has a Problem with Skin Color

1 month 3 weeks

(New York Times) – The problem isn’t unique to Covid toes or to social media. Dermatology, the medical specialty devoted to treating diseases of the skin, has a problem with brown and black skin. Though progress has been made in recent years, most textbooks that serve as road maps for diagnosing skin disorders often don’t include images of skin conditions as they appear on people of color. That’s a glaring omission that can lead to misdiagnoses and unnecessary suffering, because many key characteristics of skin disorders — like red patches and purple blotches — may appear differently on people with different complexions, experts say.

Med Students ‘Feel Very Behind’ Because of COVID-Induced Disruptions in Training

1 month 3 weeks

(Kaiser Health News) – COVID-19 is disrupting just about every student’s 2020 education, but medical students have it particularly hard right now. “It’s a nightmare scenario for the class of 2021,” said Jake Berg, a fourth-year student at the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine in Pikeville. In March, students were abruptly pulled out of hospitals and medical offices, where they normally work with professionals to learn about treating patients. Over the space of less than two weeks, he said, medical students in “pretty much the entire country” transitioned from seeing patients in person to learning online.

Your Coronavirus Test Is Positive. Maybe It Shouldn’t Be.

1 month 3 weeks

(New York Times) – Some of the nation’s leading public health experts are raising a new concern in the endless debate over coronavirus testing in the United States: The standard tests are diagnosing huge numbers of people who may be carrying relatively insignificant amounts of the virus. Most of these people are not likely to be contagious, and identifying them may contribute to bottlenecks that prevent those who are contagious from being found in time. But researchers say the solution is not to test less, or to skip testing people without symptoms, as recently suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

China Needs to Train More Doctors

1 month 3 weeks

(The Economist) – Distrust of local medicine is well founded. In 2016 just 0.2% of rural doctors in village clinics held at least a bachelor of science degree in medicine. Even in township-level health centres, only just under half of doctors in general practice (known as family medicine in America) are university graduates. China’s best medical colleges are trying to set eight years of training as a norm. But despite schemes offering tuition-free medical education to those willing to work in rural areas, most graduates want jobs in large cities.

The Coronavirus Is Most Deadly if You Are Older and Male–New Data Reveals the Risks

1 month 3 weeks

(Nature) – For every 1,000 people infected with the coronavirus who are under the age of 50, almost none will die. For people in their fifties and early sixties, about five will die — more men than women. The risk then climbs steeply as the years accrue. For every 1,000 people in their mid-seventies or older who are infected, around 116 will die. These are the stark statistics obtained by some of the first detailed studies into the mortality risk for COVID-19.

Google Offer to Help Others With the Tricky Ethics of AI

1 month 3 weeks

(Wired) – Companies pay cloud computing providers like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google big money to avoid operating their own digital infrastructure. Google’s cloud division will soon invite customers to outsource something less tangible than CPUs and disk drives—the rights and wrongs of using artificial intelligence. The company plans to launch new AI ethics services before the end of the year. Initially, Google will offer others advice on tasks such as spotting racial bias in computer vision systems, or developing ethical guidelines that govern AI projects. Longer term, the company may offer to audit customers’ AI systems for ethical integrity, and charge for ethics advice.

Coronavirus: ‘Reassuring’ Study of Children’s ‘Tiny’ Risk

1 month 3 weeks

(BBC) – Parents should be “reassured” Covid-19 has not caused the deaths of any otherwise healthy schoolchildren in the UK, researchers say. Children’s risk of needing hospital treatment for coronavirus is “tiny” and critical care “even tinier”, they say. However, black children, those who are obese and very young babies have a slightly higher risk.

Fear, Dread, and Panic: Some Covid-19 Survivors Feel Stalked by Possibility of Reinfection

1 month 3 weeks

(STAT News) – Anxiety about the coronavirus is widespread, and not just among older adults and those with weakened immune systems. But that fear is especially strong among people who have already experienced the severe symptoms of Covid-19, and are desperate to avoid getting reinfected. Those worries were inflamed this week by news of three confirmed cases of reinfection in Hong Kong, Belgium, and the Netherlands. While the Hong Kong man’s second illness was much milder than the first — something many scientists think will likely be the case for most people who get infected again — we still know very little about the likelihood and risks of reinfection.

COVID-19 Could Permanently Increase the Amount of Illness the Health Care System Handles

1 month 3 weeks

(The Verge) – After the first nine months battling COVID-19, it’s clear that we’ll probably be dealing with COVID-19 forever. That means the public health system in the US will have to change to accommodate it and permanently incorporate COVID-19 into doctors’ offices, virus surveillance, and hospital planning.

China Secretly Built a Vast Infrastructure to Imprison Muslims

1 month 3 weeks

(BuzzFeed) – China has secretly built scores of massive new prison and internment camps in the past three years, dramatically escalating its campaign against Muslim minorities even as it publicly claimed the detainees had all been set free. The construction of these purpose-built, high-security camps — some capable of housing tens of thousands of people — signals a radical shift away from the country’s previous makeshift use of public buildings, like schools and retirement homes, to a vast and permanent infrastructure for mass detention.

Anti-Covid-19 Medicines Are Being Approved Too Easily

1 month 4 weeks

(The Economist) – That regulators move fast in emergencies is to be applauded. But these three examples have raised worries that sometimes they are moving too fast, and possibly for the wrong reasons. In one instance, indeed, things have gone full circle. Hydroxychloroquine’s approval was rescinded on June 15th, after a series of well-conducted trials showed that it had no effect on covid-19. The worry is that the other two approaches may prove similarly futile—diverting attention and effort from more promising avenues or, worse, causing actual harm.

Pages