News from Bioethics.com

Here’s Why Distribution of the Vaccine Is Taking Longer Than Expected

3 months 1 week

(The New York Times) – In Florida, less than one-quarter of delivered coronavirus vaccines have been used, even as older people sat in lawn chairs all night waiting for their shots. In Puerto Rico, last week’s vaccine shipments did not arrive until the workers who would have administered them had left for the Christmas holiday. In California, doctors are worried about whether there will be enough hospital staff members to both administer vaccines and tend to the swelling number of Covid-19 patients.

‘It’s Crazy.’ Upbeat COVID-19 Vaccine News from China and U.K. Leaves Scientists Wanting More Details

3 months 1 week

(Science) – It’s not clear why the efficacy announced today for the Sinopharm vaccine is lower than the UAE claimed 3 weeks ago. And the paucity of detail in CNBG’s announcement perplexed some scientists. “I think that in America, rightly, you need to persuade the public that you’re giving them a safe and effective vaccine, and in China, it’s a somewhat different dynamic,” Moore says. “They just go, ‘Look, the government has said it works so give me your arms.’” “Most importantly we need to see the phase III study results after peer review,” says Dale Fisher, an infectious disease specialist at the National University Hospital, Singapore.

U.S. Vaccinations in 2020 Fall Far Short of Target of 20 Million People

3 months 1 week

(Reuters) – Only about 2.8 million Americans had received a COVID-19 vaccine going into the last day of December, putting the United States far short of the government’s target to vaccinate 20 million people this month. Shots are reaching nursing home residents at an even slower pace than others first in line even though they are most at risk of dying of the virus.

The Winter Surge Is Fracturing

3 months 2 weeks

(The Atlantic) – Three weeks ago, the COVID-19 winter surge was well under way and terrifyingly broad. Every day, the Northeast, South, and Midwest were seeing more than 100 deaths per million people, and the West was just shy of that, at 94 per million, with deaths increasing. The winter surge was the first time conditions had worsened nationwide; previously, the spring saw cases concentrated largely in the Northeast, followed by a summer surge across the South and West. But by early October, all four regions, as defined by the census, saw climbing hospitalizations. Now, the pandemic’s geography is fracturing again. 

China’s Sinopharm Says Its Coronavirus Vaccine Is 79% Effective

3 months 2 weeks

(CNN) – China’s state-owned pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm has announced its coronavirus vaccine is 79.34% effective. Interim analysis of Phase 3 clinical trials show the vaccine is safe and people who received two doses produced high-level antibodies, according to a statement published Wednesday by Beijing Biological Products Institute Co., a Sinopharm subsidiary. The company said it was seeking formal approval from China’s regulators to distribute the vaccine to the public.

No Half Measures and Mind the Gap: UK Nod for AstraZeneca Vaccine Raises More Questions

3 months 2 weeks

(Reuters) – British health officials greenlighted the AstraZeneca and Oxford COVID-19 shot on Wednesday but also rebuffed one of their central claims: that a half-dose followed by a standard dose offered more protection against infection. The reassessment of the best dosing regimen for the vaccine was an unexpected move by Britain’s medicines regulator based on its own analysis of as-yet-unpublished data and it raised fresh questions about the efficacy of a vaccine which has yet to be approved in other countries.

UK Is First to Authorize Easy-to-Handle AstraZeneca Vaccine

3 months 2 weeks

(Associated Press) – Britain became the first country to authorize AstraZeneca’s inexpensive, easy-to-handle COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, gaining another weapon against the virus amid a resurgence so severe that the government extended lockdowns to three-quarters of England’s population. The country also changed course by deciding to dispense the first dose of its vaccines to as many people as possible right away, to give them at least some protection. Until now, authorities have been holding large amounts of vaccine in reserve, to make sure those who receive the first dose get the required second one on time.

China Clamps Down in Hidden Hunt for Coronavirus Origins

3 months 2 weeks

(Associated Press) – Deep in the lush mountain valleys of southern China lies the entrance to a mine shaft that once harbored bats with the closest known relative of the COVID-19 virus.  The area is of intense scientific interest because it may hold clues to the origins of the coronavirus that has killed more than 1.7 million people worldwide. Yet for scientists and journalists, it has become a black hole of no information because of political sensitivity and secrecy. A bat research team visiting recently managed to take samples but had them confiscated, two people familiar with the matter said. Specialists in coronaviruses have been ordered not to speak to the press. And a team of Associated Press journalists was tailed by plainclothes police in multiple cars who blocked access to roads and sites in late November.

EXPLAINER: Scientists Trying to Understand New Virus Variant

3 months 2 weeks

(Associated Press) – Does it spread more easily? Make people sicker? Mean that treatments and vaccines won’t work? Questions are multiplying as fast as new variants of the coronavirus, especially the one moving through England and now popping up in the U.S. and other countries. Scientists say there is reason for concern and more to learn but that the new variants should not cause alarm.

The Autopsy, a Fading Practice, Revealed Secrets of COVID-19

3 months 2 weeks

(Medscape) – The COVID-19 pandemic has helped revive the autopsy. When the virus first arrived in U.S. hospitals, doctors could only guess what was causing its strange constellation of symptoms: What could explain why patients were losing their sense of smell and taste, developing skin rashes, struggling to breathe and reporting memory loss on top of flu-like coughs and aches? At hospital morgues, which have been steadily losing prominence and funding over several decades, pathologists were busily dissecting the disease’s first victims — and finding some answers.

COVID-19 Vaccine Reactions: Allergy Group Updates Guidance

3 months 2 weeks

(Medscape) – The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) has updated its advice regarding risks of allergic reactions to new mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, such as those manufactured by Moderna and by Pfizer-BioNTech. “Reactions to vaccines, in general, are rare,” the ACAAI says. Still, the group says, the new vaccines should be given in health care settings where reactions can be treated, and patients “must be observed for at least 15-30 minutes…to monitor for any adverse reaction.”

Some California Hospitals Rationing Care Due to Spike in COVID-19 Hospitalizations

3 months 2 weeks

(ABC News) – Many hospitals across California are starting to either think about rationing care or they have already started due to the COVID-19 surge in the state. Kaiser Permanente has already started to postpone non-urgent surgeries in Northern California due to the surge, which could cause serious issues for those patients who have underlying health conditions.

Facial-Recognition Tools in Spotlight in New Jersey False-Arrest Case

3 months 2 weeks

(The Wall Street Journal) – A New Jersey man is suing local authorities who he says wrongly arrested him based on a false facial-recognition match, in a case that risks further inflaming debate over the utility and accuracy of the fast-emerging technology.

The Error of Fighting a Public Health War with Medical Weapons

3 months 2 weeks

(Wired) – Here’s the wild part, the most 2020 thing about 2020: That schism—that conflict between public health and private well-being, between personal liberties and communal gain—is as old as pandemics. The germ of the idea was, in fact, the idea of the germ.

Will COVID-19 Vaccines Work on the New Coronavirus Variant?

3 months 2 weeks

(Associated Press) – Will COVID-19 vaccines work on the new coronavirus variant? Experts believe so, but they’re working to confirm that. A coronavirus variant in the United Kingdom has caused alarm because of the possibility that it might spread more easily. But even if that turns out to be true, experts say the COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out will likely still work on the variant.

Do-It-Yourself Contact Tracing Is a ‘Last Resort’ in Communities Besieged By COVID-19

3 months 2 weeks

(NPR) – COVID-19 cases are spreading so fast that they’re outpacing the contact-tracing capacities of some local health departments. Faced with mounting case loads, those departments are asking people who test positive for the novel coronavirus to do their own contact tracing.

Algorithms Are Deciding Who Gets the First Vaccines. Should We Trust Them?

3 months 2 weeks

(MSN) – When front-line workers at Stanford Health Care were passed over for the first wave of coronavirus vaccines, officials at the hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., blamed the “very complex algorithm” it had built to decide employees’ place in line. But unlike the sophisticated machine-learning algorithms that underpin the modern Internet, Stanford’s system was actually just a basic formula, simple enough for an Excel spreadsheet. And a breakdown of the algorithm, sent to medical residents and first published by MIT Technology Review, shows that its real error came from the humans who had designed it: namely, prioritizing employees based on age rather than their exposure to the virus at work.

China Warns Against Lunar New Year Travel After Finding Cases in Two Cities.

3 months 2 weeks

(The New York Times) – Last January, when the government of China imposed an unprecedented lockdown on the city of Wuhan in a belated effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus, it was right before the start of the Lunar New Year, the country’s most important holiday. Soon the shutdown was extended to encompass all 60 million people in the surrounding province of Hubei, and fear of the virus led millions more to cancel their holiday plans. Now the virus is likely to disrupt the holiday for a second year, with officials advising the public not to travel as they battle outbreaks in two major cities.

Spain Will Register Those Who Choose Not to Get Vaccinated, and Will Share the Information with the E.U.

3 months 2 weeks

(The New York Times) – Spain plans to collect and share with other European Union nations information about residents who decide not to get vaccinated for Covid-19, the country’s health minister said on Monday. Spain’s health minister, Salvador Illa, stressed that vaccination would not be made compulsory, but, he said, a register would be set up that would include all the people who turned down the vaccine after being called up for vaccination by Spain’s public health service.

British Hospitals Scramble for Space as Virus Cases Soar

3 months 2 weeks

(ABC News) – British hospitals are canceling non-urgent procedures and scrambling to find space for COVID-19 patients as coronavirus cases continue to surge despite tough new restrictions imposed to curb a fast-spreading new variant of the virus. Another 41,385 confirmed cases were recorded across the U.K. on Monday. It was the first time the daily number of cases reported in the country surpassed 40,000, although many more tests are being performed than earlier in the pandemic.

Small Number of Covid Patients Develop Severe Psychotic Symptoms

3 months 2 weeks

(The New York Times) – Beyond individual reports, a British study of neurological or psychiatric complications in 153 patients hospitalized with Covid-19 found that 10 people had “new-onset psychosis.” Another study identified 10 such patients in one hospital in Spain. And in Covid-related social media groups, medical professionals discuss seeing patients with similar symptoms in the Midwest, Great Plains and elsewhere.

Novavax Starts Late-Stage Trial of COVID-19 Vaccine in the United States

3 months 2 weeks

(Medscape) – Novavax Inc has begun a large late-stage study of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, the drug developer said on Monday, after delaying the trial twice due to issues in scaling up the manufacturing process. It will enroll up to 30,000 volunteers across about 115 sites in the United States and Mexico, with two-thirds of them receiving the shot 21 days apart and the rest getting placebo, the company said.

Scant Risk for SARS-CoV-2 from Hospital Air

3 months 2 weeks

(Medscape) – Everywhere they look within hospitals, researchers find RNA from SARS-CoV-2 in the air. But viable viruses typically are found only close to patients, according to a review of published studies. The finding supports recommendations to use surgical masks in most parts of the hospital, reserving respirators (such as N95 or FFP2) for aerosol-generating procedures on patients’ respiratory tracts, said Gabriel Birgand, PhD, an infectious disease researcher at Imperial College London, United Kingdom.

Here’s a Plan to Stop the Coronavirus From Mutating

3 months 2 weeks

(Wired) – The emergence of this worrying variant comes at a pivotal moment in the course of the pandemic: Public health officials are just now trying to decide who should be prioritized to receive the first Covid-19 vaccines approved for distribution in the US. Reports that so many mutations have arisen all at once in the new coronavirus—and that these mutations could have epidemiological consequences—add an important, but so far unappreciated, wrinkle to these deliberations. The pathogen likely has more opportunity to develop mutations in immunocompromised individuals than in other carriers. As a result, to guard against the emergence of new and more dangerous variants of SARS-CoV-2, we should consider moving immunocompromised people—who are themselves at higher risk of dying from Covid-19—closer to the front of the vaccination line.

Kuwait Starts COVID-19 Jabs as Gulf Rolls Out Mass Vaccinations

3 months 2 weeks

(Medical Xpress) – Kuwait began coronavirus vaccinations on Thursday, following several other Gulf states in rolling out a mass inoculation campaign. “This vaccine is safe and has been approved by many countries,” said Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, who was the first to receive the jab, state media reported. Kuwait, which has officially confirmed more than 148,000 coronavirus cases including 924 deaths, received the first 150,000 doses of the the vaccine developed by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech on Wednesday.

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