News from Bioethics.com

Paris Hospitals Near Full Capacity as Severe COVID Cases Surge

1 month 5 days

(Medical Xpress) – Intensive care units at hospitals in the Paris region are nearly saturated with COVID-19 patients, health authorities warned Tuesday, with doctors now putting off non-urgent operations in order to free up more beds. The surge in cases comes ahead of a government crisis meeting Wednesday, with officials hoping to avoid a new lockdown for the capital as the fast-spreading “British” variant of the coronavirus hits France.

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Africa CDC Director on the Continent’s Outlook for Vaccinations

1 month 5 days

(NPR) – Dr. John Nkengasong, the director for the African Union’s Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, says one reason for the low number of deaths so far is Africa’s young population — the median age there is about 20 years old, and the recovery rate is high. But a year into the pandemic, African countries are met with newer, more complex challenges — like navigating inequities surrounding the vaccine, critical shortages in oxygen and staving off a variant that emerged in South Africa that has already managed to creep into dozens of other countries.

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‘War Doesn’t Even Compare’: A Year in the Life of a Traveling Nurse

1 month 5 days

(NPR) – The American Association of Colleges of Nurses says that several factors are contributing to the shortage in nurses, including insufficient enrollment and faculty at nursing schools to meet the demand, a significant number of nurses reaching retirement age, and high stress levels that are driving nurses to leave the profession. And on top of that, health care workers are also falling ill and dying from the virus.

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The Pandemic Can’t End While Wealthy Nations Hoard Shots

1 month 5 days

(Wired) – The first year of the pandemic was an emergency. The arrival of vaccines that might end the emergency relaxes the pressure a bit—and in the pause, problems that got submerged in last year’s chaos are now bubbling up. Even though vaccines are still scarce—in the US, most people who want a shot still can’t get one—the rich nations of the world have promised manufacturers to buy many times more doses than they need. That is threatening to choke off vaccine supply needed by the global south. 

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CDC Data Strengthens Link Between Obesity and Severe COVID

1 month 5 days

(Medscape) – Officials have previously linked being overweight or obese to a greater risk for more severe COVID-19. A report today from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adds numbers and some nuance to the association. Data from nearly 150,000 US adults hospitalized with COVID-19 nationwide indicate that risk for more severe disease outcomes increases along with body mass index (BMI). The risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization and death associated with obesity was particularly high among people younger than 65.

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FDA Warns Against Using Ivermectin to Treat COVID-19

1 month 5 days

(Medscape) – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued guidance warning consumers against using the antiparasitic drug ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19. The agency says it issued the guidance on Friday in light of growing interest in the drug as a COVID-19 treatment and multiple reports of patients hospitalized or needing medical support “after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses. “Ivermectin, which is not an antiviral, has not been approved by the FDA for treating or preventing COVID-19, the guidance emphasized.

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Russia’s Covid-19 Vaccine Is Embraced Abroad, Snubbed at Home

1 month 5 days

(The Wall Street Journal) – Last summer, Russia was the first nation to announce its approval of a Covid-19 vaccine. Dozens of countries from Mexico to Iran have since ordered millions of doses of the shot, known as Sputnik V. But at home, Russia’s vaccination campaign has sputtered in the midst of one of the world’s highest levels of vaccine hesitancy. While the vaccine is free and widely available, only 3.5% of Russians have received at least one shot, compared with 17.1% in the U.S. and 32.1% in the U.K., according to Our World in Data, a project based at Oxford University that tracks the global vaccine rollout. Recent surveys show that less than a third of Russians are willing to get the Sputnik V vaccine.

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Fully Vaccinated People Can Gather Without Masks, CDC Says

1 month 6 days

(Associated Press) – Fully vaccinated Americans can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing, according to long-awaited guidance from federal health officials. The recommendations also say that vaccinated people can come together in the same way — in a single household — with people considered at low-risk for severe disease, such as in the case of vaccinated grandparents visiting healthy children and grandchildren.

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Push Is on for States to Ban Organ Transplant Discrimination

1 month 6 days

(Kaiser Health News) – Denying organ transplants to people with intellectual and neurodevelopmental disabilities like Down syndrome or autism is common in the United States, even though it is illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to one widely cited 2008 study, 44% of organ transplant centers said they would not add a child with some level of neurodevelopmental disability to the organ transplant list. Eighty-five percent might consider the disability as a factor in deciding whether to list the person.

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The Lost Year: What the Pandemic Cost Teenagers

1 month 6 days

(ProPublica) – In Hobbs, New Mexico, the high school closed and football was cancelled, while just across the state line in Texas, students seemed to be living nearly normal lives. Here’s how the pandemic school closures exact their emotional toll on young people.

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A Pandemic Expert Weighs in on the Long Road Ahead for Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution

1 month 6 days

(STAT News) – Though nearly 300 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered around the globe so far, the world still has a long way to go before we can think about declaring the pandemic over. Vaccine distribution remains wildly inequitable, with wealthy countries vaccinating at far higher rates than low- and middle-income countries. Meantime, with the scramble to ramp up manufacturing, there are concerns that the production of Covid-19 vaccines could cannibalize the ability of companies to make and distribute other vaccines, like those that protect against dangerous pathogens like rabies, tetanus, measles, and human papillomavirus.

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Alaska’s Remote Villages Race Against Time and History

1 month 6 days

(New York Times) – In a state where the Indigenous population has been ravaged by global disease outbreaks for generations, the coronavirus pandemic has killed Alaska Natives at quadruple the rate of white residents. The virus has taken hold in remote communities, setting up an urgent race between infections and vaccinations during a season in which weather can limit travel, the sun may only wink above the horizon and large, multigenerational families are crowded indoors.

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U.S. Government Scientists Skeptical of One-Shot Regimen for Pfizer, Moderna Covid Vaccines

1 month 6 days

(The Wall Street Journal) – U.S. government scientists are pushing back against calls for one-dose regimens for two Covid-19 vaccines designed to be administered with two shots, saying there isn’t enough evidence that a single dose provides long-term protection. “It is essential that these vaccines be used as authorized by FDA in order to prevent Covid-19 and related hospitalizations and death,” Peter Marks, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s center that oversees vaccines, told The Wall Street Journal.

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Russian Disinformation Campaign Aims to Undermine Confidence in Pfizer Other Covid-19 Vaccines, U.S. Officials Say

1 month 6 days

(The Wall Street Journal) – Russian intelligence agencies have mounted a campaign to undermine confidence in Pfizer Inc.’s and other Western vaccines, using online publications that in recent months have questioned the vaccines’ development and safety, U.S. officials said. An official with the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, which monitors foreign disinformation efforts, identified four publications that he said have served as fronts for Russian intelligence. The websites played up the vaccines’ risk of side effects, questioned their efficacy, and said the U.S. had rushed the Pfizer vaccine through the approval process, among other false or misleading claims.

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Life, Death and Grief in Los Angeles

1 month 1 week

(Los Angeles Times) – By mid-February, the virus had killed Black residents at nearly twice the rate and Latinos at nearly three times the rate of white Angelenos. It had exposed not just a sharp racial and ethnic divide but also the longstanding neglect of people who clean homes, care for the elderly and people with disabilities, sort and deliver packages and prepare, cook and serve the food we eat. “This is a public-policy conundrum and systems failure of a whole other level because of the economic and the public-health consequences,” said Sonja Diaz, founding director of the Latino Policy & Politics Initiative at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Ultimately, we’ve failed to respond and to stop the bleeding because we’ve made decisions that either willfully or because of the lack of understanding have excluded the very populations that are critical to the state’s functioning and are also the ones that need our help the most.”

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Ghana Greets Historic Vaccine Delivery with a Dose of Skepticism

1 month 1 week

(NPR) – Ghana, characterized as a lower middle-income country by the World Bank, received 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine — part of an initial 2.4 million doses to be shipped by COVAX in 2021. But it’s one thing to have a supply of vaccines; it’s another to administer them. Nana Kofi Quakyi, research fellow and doctoral candidate at NYU College of Global Public Health, thinks the country can draw from past experience. Ghana has been able to vaccinate up to 90% of its population for various other diseases, Quakyi says.

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Teacher Vaccinations Go Unchecked Amid School Reopening Push

1 month 1 week

(Associated Press) – The national rush to vaccinate teachers in hopes of soon reopening pandemic-shuttered schools is running into one basic problem: Almost no one knows how many are getting the shots, or refusing to get them. States and many districts have not been keeping track of school employee vaccinations, even as the U.S. prioritizes teachers nationwide. Vaccines are not required for educators to return to school buildings, but the absence of data complicates efforts to address parents’ concerns about health risk levels and some teachers unions’ calls for widespread vaccinations as a condition of reopening schools.

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Doctors Tally COVID-19’s Toll on Hospitalized Patients: ‘It’s Costly and It’s Deadly’

1 month 1 week

(Los Angeles Times) – A new study of nearly 200,000 adults hospitalized with COVID-19 in hundreds of medical centers across the U.S. found that the oldest patients were 19 times more likely to die than the youngest patients. Overall, death rates declined significantly over six months — an encouraging sign that as health workers learned more about the disease, they got better at keeping sick patients alive. The findings, published Friday in the journal JAMA Network Open, offer a broad view of the mark the coronavirus has left on a wide swath of Americans.

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A New Covid-19 Experiment from Asia: Letting Companies Buy Vaccines

1 month 1 week

(The Wall Street Journal) – With vaccinations moving slowly in the world’s fourth most-populous country, the government has authorized an unusual approach: allowing private companies to acquire Covid-19 vaccines from state-owned distributors for a price to inoculate their employees. In Indonesia, where Covid-19 infections remain high and many businesses are operating with reduced staff, companies see the plan as an opportunity to return to full capacity faster and reassure workers concerned about contagion. The idea emanated from the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which proposed it to President Joko Widodo, saying it would boost productivity and reduce pressure on the national budget because businesses would be paying for some of the vaccination drive, said Chairman Rosan Roeslani.

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A New Study of Athletes’ Hearts After Covid Shows Encouraging Results

1 month 1 week

(The Wall Street Journal) – The scary question that leagues like the NBA, NFL and MLB  faced as they returned to play over the past year was how prevalent heart damage would be among players who tested positive for Covid-19. They now have an encouraging answer: It’s rare. A new study on the topic in JAMA Cardiology is based on the screening of 789 professional athletes who tested positive for Covid-19 between May and October in Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, the National Hockey League, National Football League, and the men’s and women’s National Basketball Association.

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Study Tracks Delayed Local Reactions in 12 Recipients of Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine

1 month 1 week

(Medscape) – Local reaction to Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine can appear up to 11 days after vaccination and symptoms can persist for as long as 11 days, a team of Boston doctors warns in an online letter to The New England Journal of Medicine. Their analysis of 12 patients with delayed reactions after the first dose of the vaccine found that when delayed reactions occurred, the median time to onset was 8 days and symptoms resolved after a median of 6 days.

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Call to Action on Obesity Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

1 month 1 week

(Medscape) – Hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide from COVID-19 could have been avoided if obesity rates were lower, a new report says. An analysis by the World Obesity Federation (WOF) found that of the 2.5 million COVID-19 deaths reported by the end of February 2021, almost 90% (2.2 million) were in countries where more than half the population is classified as overweight. The report, released to coincide with World Obesity Day, calls for obesity to be recognized as a disease in its own right around the world, and for people with obesity to be included in priority lists for COVID-19 testing and vaccination.

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Accidentally Trashed, Thawed, or Expired: Reports of Covid Vaccination Spoilage

1 month 1 week

(Medscape) – As the speed of covid vaccinations picks up, so do the reports of doses going to waste. And it’s more than just a handful at the end of the day because of a few appointment cancellations. Health officials are trying to rein in waste without slowing down vaccinations. The incidents range from 335 discarded doses in Lee County, North Carolina, that were damaged in shipping, to nearly 5,000 doses that went to waste in Tennessee in February, prompting additional federal oversight.

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‘I’m the Doctor Who Is Here to Help You Die’

1 month 1 week

(The Atlantic) – This would be Shavelson’s 90th assisted death. Everyone said that no doctor in California did more deaths than Shavelson. He would say that this had little to do with him and more to do with the fact that other doctors refused to perform assisted deaths, or were forbidden to do them by the hospitals and hospices where they worked. Sometimes, Shavelson told me, he got quiet phone calls from doctors at Catholic health systems. “I have a patient,” the doctors would say. “Can you help?”

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‘Falling Through Cracks’: Vaccine Bypasses Some Older Adults

1 month 1 week

(Associated Press) – Older adults have top priority in COVID-19 immunization drives the world over right now, and hundreds of thousands of them are spending hours online, enlisting their children’s help and traveling hours to far-flung pharmacies in a desperate bid to secure a COVID-19 vaccine. But an untold number like Andrade are getting left behind, unseen, because they are too overwhelmed, too frail or too poor to fend for themselves.

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