News from Bioethics.com

Some Life Insurers Hit Pause on Older Americans During Coronavirus Crisis

1 month 2 weeks

(Reuters) – Some U.S. life insurers are deciding not to gamble on older Americans during the coronavirus crisis by temporarily suspending applications from certain age groups or imposing tougher requirements. Prudential Financial Inc (PRU.N), Lincoln National Corp (LNC.N) and Protective Insurance Corp (PTVCB.O) are among the insurers that have made changes. Prudential and Protective are temporarily halting applications from individuals aged 80 or older, while Lincoln has postponed approving policies for that age group and others, the companies said.

European Coronavirus App Platform Gains Traction with Governments

1 month 2 weeks

(Reuters) – A European technology platform to support smartphone apps that can help trace people at risk of infection by the new coronavirus is gaining support from governments, one of its prime movers said on Friday.  Seven countries have either formally supported the Pan-European Privacy Preserving Proximity Tracing initiative or tasked one of its members with developing a national app, German tech entrepreneur Chris Boos told Reuters.

Unproven Tests. Inaccurate Results. Public Health Labs Worry ‘Bad Data’ Could Taint US Recovery from Coronavirus Crisis.

1 month 2 weeks

(USA Today) – Companies are lining up to market an emerging type of blood test to detect whether a person has ever had the novel coronavirus. These antibody tests could be critical to reopening the U.S., informing public health and state officials on how and when Americans can resume everyday activities. Some lab experts warn relaxed rules by the Food and Drug Administration allow unproven and potentially unreliable tests on the market. Companies marketing 90 antibody tests have notified the federal agency of plans to offer tests that gauge whether a person’s ever been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Police Found 17 Bodies at New Jersey Nursing Home After Anonymous Tip

1 month 3 weeks

(BBC) – New Jersey police found 17 bodies in one of the state’s largest nursing homes after an anonymous tip said a body was being stored in a shed. A total of 68 people associated with the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation centres have recently died, with 26 having tested positive for Covid-19. Police did not find a body in the shed, but said the facility’s tiny morgue was “overwhelmed”.

New York Coronavirus Hospitalizations Fall, New Jersey Launches Nursing Home Probe

1 month 3 weeks

(Reuters) – The number of people hospitalized for the novel coronavirus and related deaths in New York fell to their lowest levels in more than a week, adding to evidence the hardest-hit state was controlling its spread, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday. Cuomo also extended an order closing businesses and schools by two weeks until at least May 15 in coordination with other states in the region, and added details to face-mask requirements, saying New Yorkers should wear them on buses, taxis and trains.

Early Peek at Data on Gilead Coronavirus Drug Suggests Patients Are Responding to Treatment

1 month 3 weeks

(STAT News) – A Chicago hospital treating severe Covid-19 patients with Gilead Sciences’ antiviral medicine remdesivir in a closely watched clinical trial is seeing rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms, with nearly all patients discharged in less than a week, STAT has learned. Remdesivir was one of the first medicines identified as having the potential to impact SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19, in lab tests.

FDA Eases Rules So Compounders Can Make Drugs for Covid-19 Patients on Ventilators

1 month 3 weeks

(STAT News) – In response to shortages of medicines needed for Covid-19 patients on ventilators, the Food and Drug Administration is temporarily easing its rules so that compounders can start making some of the drugs. For as long as the nationwide public health emergency is in effect, the agency will not take action against compounding pharmacies that make a medicine that is a copy of an approved drug, use bulk ingredients not on an approved list, or fail to meet good manufacturing requirements for stability testing.

FDA Approves Trial of Stem Cells for Severe COVID-19 Treatment

1 month 3 weeks

(UPI) – Researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine received approval Thursday from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to start a small clinical trial using stem cells against COVID-19. The trial will evaluate use of umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells to address life-threatening lung inflammation suffered by people with the severe form of the disease caused by the new coronavirus. 

‘We Are Dead’: People with Disabilities Fear They Will Be on Losing End of Doctors’ Life-or-Death Choices Amid Coronavirus Crisis

1 month 3 weeks

(USA Today) – As the number of COVID-19 cases and corresponding deaths accelerates across the country, one of America’s most vulnerable – and most overlooked – groups of citizens worry not just about how to get food and pay rent in a locked-down nation, but whether they will even be considered treatable if they get sick. In essence it comes down to the question of who chooses who will live and die when allocating scarce health care resources. 

I Helped Fight the Ebola Outbreak in Liberia. Here’s What It Takes to Conquer a Pandemic

1 month 3 weeks

(TIME) – In the current pandemic, things are getting scarier every day in Liberia. We have limited capacity in many areas, ranging from human resources to equipment. Because many facilities are not prepared to handle cases of severe respiratory symptoms relating to COVID-19, they have begun to turn away patients, which may worsen the health burden in Liberia. So far, all our patients are responding to treatment, so people think we are not saying the truth about how bad this will be. The same happened in the Ebola crisis. Until people saw that others were dying, they had doubts that the disease existed. They won’t believe if they are not seeing bodies.

True Toll of COVID-19 on U.S. Health Care Workers Unknown

1 month 3 weeks

(Kaiser Health News) – The number of health care workers who have tested positive for the coronavirus is likely far higher than the reported tally of 9,200, and U.S. officials say they have no comprehensive way to count those who lose their lives trying to save others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the infection tally Tuesday and said 27 health worker deaths have been recorded, based on a small number of test-result reports. Officials stressed that the count was drawn from just 16% of the nation’s COVID-19 cases, so the true numbers of health care infections and deaths are certainly far higher.

A Desperate Scramble as COVID-19 Families Vie for Access to Plasma Therapy

1 month 3 weeks

(Kaiser Health News) – Garcia’s plight underscores the lack of coordination — and disparities in access — as families of failing COVID-19 patients jockey to obtain the still-unproven treatment. Even as efforts ramp up to collect blood plasma from the first survivors of the novel coronavirus, one’s chances of procuring the treatment appear to depend on accidents of geography, social-media savvy and the willingness of treating physicians.

Italy Aims to Turn Suffering to Advantage with Experimental Covid-19 Treatment

1 month 3 weeks

(CNN) – For nearly a month, Italy held the awful distinction of having the most coronavirus deaths of any country in the world — topping China, the original epicenter, in mid-March, and being overtaken by the United States three and a half weeks later. But now doctors are hoping to turn Italy’s terrible suffering to its advantage. The country is pinning its hopes on using the blood plasma of Covid-19 survivors to help those who are suffering most from it in hospitals now.

Hospitals Quickly Reshape to Treat Covid-19 Patients

1 month 3 weeks

(Wired) – Health care workers need more space for examining patients, handwashing, and putting on and taking off personal protective equipment. They need to quickly separate Covid-19 patients from those suffering from other maladies—heart attacks, respiratory issues, and broken bones. They must enforce new, strict visitor policies, which sometimes bar relatives from the rooms of dying patients. They’d like to check on infectious disease patients without entering rooms, which would require another change of still-limited protective gear.

Search for a COVID-19 Vaccine Heats Up in China, US

1 month 3 weeks

(ABC News) – Three potential COVID-19 vaccines are making fast progress in early-stage testing in volunteers in China and the U.S., but it’s still a long road to prove if they’ll really work. China’s CanSino Biologics is beginning the second phase of testing its vaccine candidate, China’s Ministry of Science and Technology said Tuesday. In the U.S., a shot made by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc. isn’t far behind. The first person to receive that experimental vaccine last month returned to a Seattle clinic Tuesday for a second dose.

There’s Been a Spike in People Dying at Home in Several Cities.

1 month 3 weeks

(ProPublica) – In recent weeks, residents outside Boston have died at home much more often than usual. In Detroit, authorities are responding to nearly four times the number of reports of dead bodies. And in New York, city officials are recording more than 200 home deaths per day — a nearly sixfold increase from recent years. As of Tuesday afternoon, the United States had logged more than 592,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 24,000 deaths, the most in the world, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

DR Congo Ebola Outbreak Still International Emergency: WHO

1 month 3 weeks

(Medical Xpress) – The World Health Organization said Tuesday it was extending its global emergency designation of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after fresh cases were detected. The announcement comes just a day after the vast central African country had been expected to announce that its outbreak was over.

The Lonely Reality of Grieving Online During Social Isolation

1 month 3 weeks

(MIT Technology Review) – The global coronavirus pandemic has forced people to think about death, while simultaneously upending the ways in which we are used to experiencing grief and loss. Zoom funerals, delayed burials, and virtual goodbyes have replaced hugs, wakes, and held hands. The only option is to grieve online. Experts say that while there are ways in which live video and online social connections can help, everyone needs something different in grief. Just like everything else, mourning the dead is harder in our new reality.

“It’s a Time Bomb”: 23 Die as Virus Hits Packed Homeless Shelters

1 month 3 weeks

(The New York Times) – While much of New York City is staying inside, a crisis has taken hold among a population for whom social distancing is nearly impossible: the more than 17,000 men and women, many of them already in poor health, who sleep in roughly 100 group or “congregate” shelters for single adults. Most live in dormitories that are fertile fields for the virus, with beds close enough for people sleeping in them to hold hands. And rather than keeping people away from shelters, the virus has driven them in.

He Beat Coronavirus. Now His Blood May Help Save Lives.

1 month 3 weeks

(The New York Times) – As part of a newly approved federal trial, researchers at the network, Hackensack Meridian Health, are preparing to infuse patients fighting for life with antibody-rich blood plasma donated Wednesday by a neonatal doctor who was infected with the virus and recovered. The hope is that the plasma will boost patients’ immune systems and help them combat the virus before their lungs are destroyed.

Declare Abortion a Public Health Issue During Pandemic, WHO Urged

1 month 3 weeks

(The Guardian) – The World Health Organization is being urged to declare abortion an essential health service during the coronavirus pandemic. In guidance notes issued last week, the WHO advised all governments to identify and prioritise the health services each believed essential, listing reproductive health services as an example. Clinical guidelines published by the organisation last month said that women’s right to sexual and reproductive healthcare “should be respected irrespective of Covid-19 status, including access to contraception and safe abortion”.

How Apple and Google Are Enabling Covid-19 Contact-Tracing

1 month 3 weeks

(Wired) – Since Covid-19 began its spread across the world, technologists have proposed using so-called contact-tracing apps to track infections via smartphones. Now, Google and Apple are teaming up to give contact-tracers the ingredients to make that system possible—while in theory still preserving the privacy of those who use it. On Friday, the two companies announced a rare joint project to create the groundwork for Bluetooth-based contact-tracing apps that can work across both iOS and Android phones.

‘We Carry That Burden.’ Medical Workers Fighting Covid-19 Are Facing a Mental Health Crisis

1 month 3 weeks

(TIME) – In interviews with TIME, several doctors and nurses said that fighting COVID-19 is making them feel more dedicated to their profession, and determined to push through and help their patients. However, many also admitted to harboring darker feelings. They’re afraid of spreading the disease to their families, frustrated about a lack of adequate protective gear and a sense they can’t do enough for their patients, exhausted as hours have stretched longer without a clear end in sight, and, most of all, deeply sad for their dying patients, many of whom are slipping away without their loved ones at their side. It’s those lonely deaths that have hit the hardest for some.

Yemen ‘Faces Nightmare’ as First Coronavirus Case Confirmed

1 month 3 weeks

(BBC) – Aid agencies have expressed alarm after the first virus case was confirmed in Yemen, where years of civil war have devastated health systems. Oxfam said it was a “devastating blow”, the International Rescue Committee called it a “nightmare scenario”. Yemen is suffering the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and millions are reliant on food aid. Diseases including cholera, dengue and malaria are rife and only half of hospitals are fully functional.

New Ebola Case Dashes Hopes That the 2-Year-Old DRC Outbreak Was Over

1 month 3 weeks

(STAT News) – The long-running Ebola outbreak in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has encountered another setback, with health authorities confirming on Friday that a new case has been discovered after 52 days without a positive diagnosis. The country had been expected to declare the outbreak over on Monday, which would have been 42 days after the last Ebola survivor had been declared free of infection and discharged from an Ebola treatment clinic. Forty-two days is the length of two incubation periods of the disease and is considered the point at which it can be reasonably safe to declare an outbreak over.

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