News from Bioethics.com

Judge strikes down Indiana abortion complications report law

3 days 12 hours

(ABC News) INDIANAPOLIS — A federal judge has struck down an Indiana law that aimed to require reports from medical providers to the state if they treat women for complications arising from abortions.

Supreme Court Upholds Trump Administration Regulation Letting Employers Opt Out of Birth Control Coverage

3 days 12 hours

(New York Times) WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a Trump administration regulation that lets employers with religious or moral objections limit women’s access to birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act and could result in as many as 126,000 women losing contraceptive coverage from their employers.

Coronavirus vaccine news update: Bharat Biotech, Zydus Cadila set for trials; SII expects nod in 6 months

3 days 13 hours

(Business Today) Pharmaceutical companies across the world are engaged in a tight race to find coronavirus vaccine. As such Indian contenders are also speeding up the process. But if an Oxford University professor is to be believed, then there might not be much need for a vaccine. Professor Sunetra Gupta, believes that coronavirus might disappear on its own without the help of a vaccine. She also pointed out that coronavirus impacts mostly the high-risk cases. “What we’ve seen is that in normal, healthy people, who are not elderly or frail or don’t have comorbidities, this virus is not something to worry about no more than how we worry about flu,” she said. Meanwhile, closer home two companies have received approval to conduct trials for their coronavirus vaccine candidate.

Why we still haven’t cloned humans — it’s not just ethics

4 days 12 hours

(Business Insider) We’ve been able to clone human embryos for about seven years. But as far as we know, no one’s actually cloned a whole person. Turns out, ethics aren’t the only thing holding scientists back. Cloning isn’t the sci-fi marvel we think it is. It can be dangerous, often ineffective, and, most of all, we just haven’t thought of a good enough reason to do it. So, here’s why you’ll probably never have to fight your evil clone.

Risk of Cerebral Palsy for IVF Babies Cut in Half in the Last Two Decades

4 days 12 hours

(MedPage Today) Cerebral palsy among IVF children decreased by more than 50% in the last 20 years, researchers reported. The crude risk of cerebral palsy among children conceived via assisted reproductive technology (ART) dropped from 0.9% to 0.3% from 1990 to 2010, while the risk remained stable among children conceived naturally, reported Anne Lærke Spangmose, MD, of the Fertility Clinic Rigshospitalet at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark.

Plasma therapy — 11 trials underway, many Covid ‘cure’ stories but some doubts linger

4 days 12 hours

(The Print) New Delhi: Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain credits plasma therapy with his recovery from Covid-19, and reports of its success have been pouring in from around the country. Even as multiple trials remain underway to establish its efficacy against a disease that has battered the world, plasma banks have been set up to ease patients’ search for donors. 

New method to edit cell’s ‘powerhouse’ DNA could help study variety of genetic diseases

4 days 12 hours

(Science) In a biological beating of swords into plowshares, researchers have converted a bacterial toxin into a genome editing tool that, for the first time, can make precise changes to DNA in mitochondria, the cell’s power plants. The tool, which worked in lab experiments with human cells, could open the door to new studies of—and one day therapies for—dozens of hard-to-treat diseases caused by mutations in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). These rare conditions, which include Leber hereditary optic neuropathy and lethal infantile cardiomyopathy, collectively affect about one in 4000 people. Until now, research on these illnesses has been stymied in part because there was no way of reproducing the mutations in strains of mice.

COVID-19 makes clear that bioethics must confront health disparities

4 days 13 hours

(The Conversation) With some reluctance, I’ve come to the sad realization the COVID-19 pandemic has been a stress test for bioethics, a field of study that intersects medicine, law, the humanities and the social sciences. As both a physician and medical ethicist, I arrived at this conclusion after spending months at what was once the epicenter of the pandemic: New York City. I was overseeing a 24/7 bioethics consultation service.

Accuracy of COVID-19 Antibody Tests Depend on Timing, Analysis Finds

5 days 16 hours

(UPI) – Antibody testing might help determine whether people have had COVID-19, but its effectiveness depends on when the test occurs, according to an analysis published Thursday by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. In general, the tests were better at detecting COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, two or more weeks after the onset of symptoms, the reviewers found. 

Exclusive: US National Science Foundation Reveals First Details on Foreign-Influence Investigations

5 days 16 hours

(Nature) – The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has for the first time released figures on actions taken against researchers who have been found to violate rules regarding the disclosure of foreign ties. Since 2018, the agency has reassigned suspended or terminated grants, forced institutions to return funds or barred researchers from applying for future funding in 16 to 20 cases where rules weren’t followed, according to Rebecca Keiser, the agency’s first chief of research security strategy and policy.

Agonizing Lag in Coronavirus Research Puts Pregnant Women and Babies at Risk

5 days 17 hours

(ProPublica) – In late June, after three months of near silence on the topic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finally weighed in on a question of critical importance to millions of American women and families: How dangerous is the coronavirus for pregnant women and new mothers? The CDC had been asserting that pregnant women don’t seem to be at higher risk for severe complications from the virus. As recently as late May, a spokesperson told ProPublica, “Current evidence shows pregnant women have the same risk of severe illness from COVID-19 as adults who are not pregnant.” hen, the agency abruptly changed its tone. In its first examination of U.S. data on COVID-19 in pregnancy, the CDC found that expectant mothers with the virus had a 50% higher chance of being admitted to intensive care and a 70% higher chance of being intubated than nonpregnant women in their childbearing years.

After 13 Tons of Human Hair Products Seized, US Warns About Importing from Xinjiang, China

6 days 17 hours

(ABC News) – Several branches of the U.S. government on Wednesday warned private companies against using supply chains tied to forced labor camps in China’s Xinjiang province. The advisory was issued shortly after U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) authorities in Newark, New Jersey, seized about $800,000 worth imported goods from China, including human hair products.

How Can We Ban Facial Recognition When It’s Already Everywhere?

1 week 2 days

(Vox) – Facial recognition is having a reckoning. Recent protests against racism and police brutality have shined a light on the surveillance tools available to law enforcement, and major tech companies are temporarily backing away from facial recognition and urging federal officials to step in and regulate. 

A Guide to R–The Pandemic’s Misunderstood Metric

1 week 2 days

(Nature) – But fascination might have turned into unhealthy political and media fixation, say disease experts. R is an imprecise estimate that rests on assumptions, says Jeremy Rossman, a virologist at the University of Kent, UK. It doesn’t capture the current status of an epidemic and can spike up and down when case numbers are low. It is also an average for a population and therefore can hide local variation. 

Quadriplegic COVID-19 Patient Dies after Austin Hospital Stops Treatment

1 week 2 days

(WFAA) – In early June, Michael Hickson was taken to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center from a nursing home. Michael Hickson tested positive for COVID-19. He was also a quadriplegic and incapacitated. The hospital eventually stopped treating him. About a week after he got there, he died. Michael’s wife, Melissa Hickson, recorded a conversation with the doctor, who explained why.”Will it affect his quality, will it improve his quality of life?” The doctor asked. “And the answer is no.”

An Experiment in End-of-Life Care: Tapping AI’s Cold Calculus to Nudge the Most Human of Conversations

1 week 3 days

(STAT News) – Hospitals and clinics are running into thorny challenges and making weighty judgment calls as they try to weave an algorithm with such momentous implications into the fabric of a clinical team’s already complex and frenetic workflow, a STAT examination found. STAT spoke with 15 clinicians, researchers, developers, and experts in AI and palliative care to understand how such AI models are being deployed at Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, and a community oncology practice near Seattle — and how they might be received by patients and providers if they’re rolled out more widely.

Here’s What Recovery from Covid-19 May Look Like for Many Survivors

1 week 4 days

(New York Times) – Hundreds of thousands of seriously ill coronavirus patients who survive and leave the hospital are facing a new and difficult challenge: recovery. Many are struggling to overcome a range of troubling residual symptoms, and some problems may persist for months, years or even the rest of their lives. Patients who are returning home after being hospitalized for severe respiratory failure from the virus are confronting physical, neurological, cognitive and emotional issues.

Covid-19 Vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech Shows Positive Results

1 week 4 days

(STAT News) – An experimental Covid-19 vaccine being developed by the drug giant Pfizer and the biotech firm BioNTech spurred immune responses in healthy patients, but also caused fever and other side effects, especially at higher doses. The first clinical data on the vaccine were disclosed Wednesday in a paper released on medRXiv, a preprint server, meaning it has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a journal.

US Gets Almost All of the World’s Supply of Key Covid-19 Drug

1 week 4 days

(CNN) – The United States has been allocated almost all of the next few months’ supply of remdesivir, the only drug that’s known to work directly against Covid-19. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Monday that it had secured 100% of drug-maker Gilead’s projected production for July, and 90% of its production for August and September — plus more for clinical trials.

A Dire Warning from COVID-19 Test Providers

1 week 4 days

(The Atlantic) – The United States is once again at risk of outstripping its COVID-19 testing capacity, an ominous development that would deny the country a crucial tool to understand its pandemic in real time. The American testing supply chain is stretched to the limit, and the ongoing outbreak in the South and West could overwhelm it, according to epidemiologists and testing-company executives. While the country’s laboratories have added tremendous capacity in the past few months—the U.S. now tests about 550,000 people each day, a fivefold increase from early April—demand for viral tests is again outpacing supply.

Federal Officials Turn to a New Testing Strategy as Infections Surge

1 week 4 days

(New York Times) – The Trump administration plans to adopt a decades-old testing strategy that will vastly increase the number of coronavirus tests performed in the United States and permit widespread tracking of the virus as it surges across the country. The method, called pooled testing, signals a paradigm shift. Instead of carefully rationing tests to only those with symptoms, pooled testing would enable frequent surveillance of asymptomatic people. Mass identification of coronavirus infections could hasten the reopening of schools, offices and factories.

Researchers Debate Infecting People on Purpose to Test Coronavirus Vaccines

1 week 4 days

(New York Times) – One way to quickly see if a coronavirus vaccine works would be to immunize healthy people and then deliberately expose them to the virus, some researchers are suggesting. Proponents say this strategy, called a human challenge trial, could save time because rather than conducting tests the usual way — by waiting for vaccinated people to encounter the virus naturally — researchers could just infect them.

Global COVID-19 Prevention Trial of Hydroxychloroquine to Resume

1 week 4 days

(Medscape) – A global trial designed to test whether the anti-malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can prevent infection with COVID-19 is to restart after being approved by British regulators. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) took its decision on what is known as the COPCOV trial after hydroxychloroquine was found in another British trial to have no benefit as a treatment for patients already infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus

F.B.I. Warns of Fraudulent Coronavirus Antibody Tests

1 week 5 days

(New York Times) – The F.B.I. has issued a warning about scammers who advertise fraudulent Covid-19 antibody tests as a way to obtain personal information that can be used for identity theft or medical insurance fraud. The warning, issued Friday, is the latest in a series of alerts from the federal government about fraudulent exploitation of the coronavirus pandemic.

Austin Hospital Withheld Treatment from Disabled Man Who Contracted Coronavirus

1 week 5 days

(The Texan) – Michael Hickson, husband to Melissa and father of five children, died at age 46 on Thursday, June 11 at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center after the hospital withheld treatment from him, including hydration and nutrition, for six days. His wife was not notified of his death until the next morning after his remains had already been transported to a funeral home without her permission.

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