News from Bioethics.com

Covid-19 Numbers Are Bad in Ecuador. The President Says the Real Story Is Even Worse

3 months 2 weeks

(NPR) – Ecuador has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in all of Latin America – with 10,128 cases and 507 deaths in a country of just 17 million people. But the situation may be far worse than what the official numbers show. In fact, one Ecuadorian official says it appears that thousands more people may have died of the disease than his government is reporting. Jorge Wated, who heads a government task force charged with collecting and burying bodies in Guayaquil, the epicenter of the outbreak, said that in the first 15 days of April, 6,703 people had died from either COVID-19 or natural causes. Previous to the coronavirus outbreak, he said, the monthly figure was around 1,000.

New York Nurses Sue State, Two Hospitals over ‘Inadequate’ Coronavirus Protection

3 months 2 weeks

(Reuters) – The New York State Nurses Association sued the state and two hospitals on Monday to force them to provide safety equipment and adopt measures to prevent COVID-19 from spreading among its members, highlighting the growing disputes over workplace safety during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Feds to Track, Share Information on Nursing Home Outbreaks

3 months 2 weeks

(ABC News) – Calling nursing homes ground zero of the coronavirus crisis, federal officials said Monday they plan to start tracking and publicly sharing information on infections and deaths in such facilities to help spot trends and early signs the virus is spreading in communities. The move comes as critics, industry officials and local leaders have called for more aggressive actions by the federal government to track infections in homes and contain outbreaks by helping them get greater access to testing and masks, especially given the vulnerability of elderly residents.

Some Benefits of a Covid Vaccine Could Come Early

3 months 2 weeks

(The Economist) – Since then antibody-rich “convalescent plasma” (CP) has been used as a treatment for various diseases, including SARS and the pandemic strains of H1N1 and H5N1 influenza. Now covid-19 has joined the list. A recent study in Wuhan found that severely ill covid-19 patients treated with CP did significantly better than patients matched with them by age, gender and severity of infection had done earlier in the epidemic.

‘Amazing Potential.’ UM Doctor to Start Stem Cell Trial for Coronavirus Patients

3 months 2 weeks

(Miami Herald) – A team of doctors at the University of Miami won emergency federal approval to use stem cell therapy on patients suffering severe lung inflammation from COVID-19. The treatment will begin this week, starting with a dozen patients. The UM Miller School of Medicine doctors are proposing to block the inflammation using an intravenous infusion of stem cells from umbilical cords, building on promising but limited results from a 10-patient study in China. The Food and Drug Administration granted immediate authorization for the trial earlier this week.

Covid-19 Stalls Clinical Trials for Everything but Covid-19

3 months 3 weeks

(Wired) – Across the globe, while research into potential Covid-19 vaccines and treatments is speeding along, the pandemic has slowed or brought to a halt clinical trials for other diseases. Clinical trials demand patient travel, doctors, and clinical space—all pinched by the rapid spread of Covid-19. By one count from the publication BioPharma Dive, more than 70 companies so far reported an interruption to at least one clinical trial because of the pandemic. These delays could extend an already lengthy process to get drugs to market. And they may cut off a lifeline for patients willing to try a drug before it gets regulatory approval.

Congo Records Five New Ebola Cases, Shelves Declaration of End to Epidemic

3 months 3 weeks

(Reuters) – Five new Ebola infections have been recorded in eastern Congo since last week in a new flare-up just as the government was about to declare an end to the deadly epidemic, the World Health Organization said on Friday. Small outbreaks or one-off transmissions are common towards the end of an epidemic. Healthworkers are often able to prevent the virus spreading out of control by quarantining and vaccinating contacts of new cases.

China’s Virus Death Toll Revised Up Sharply After Review

3 months 3 weeks

(Associated Press) – China’s official death toll from the coronavirus pandemic jumped sharply Friday as the hardest-hit city of Wuhan announced a major revision that added nearly 1,300 fatalities. The new figures resulted from an in-depth review of deaths during a response that was chaotic in the early days. They raised the official toll in Wuhan by 50% to 3,869 deaths. While China has yet to update its national totals, the revised numbers push up China’s total to 4,632 deaths from a previously reported 3,342.

‘No One Is Prepared for This’–Italian Doctors Fight to Keep Home Patients Alive

3 months 3 weeks

(Reuters) – For doctors in northern Italy, fighting what is still Europe’s worst outbreak of COVID-19, the frontlines have moved beyond hospitals as special teams try to keep patients alive at home, away from the saturated wards where thousands have died. For staff on the so-called USCA (Special Continuity Assistance Units) teams, it has been a draining struggle, initially hampered by a shortage of vital protective gear, that mixes emergency medicine with the shock of losing unprecedented numbers of patients.

When Coronavirus Care Gets Lost in Translation

3 months 3 weeks

(The New York Times) – Because personal protective equipment is in short supply in hospitals across the country, few clinical interpreters are able to work in person with Covid-19 patients, as they normally would. Most language interpretation is done remotely. Communicating through an interpreter doubles or triples the length of a medical exchange, adding new confusion and anxiety to situations that are already stressful for patients and their families. And the conditions of Covid-19 care — the rapid pace at which cases evolve, the desire of hospital workers to limit the duration of their exposure to patients — create numerous obstacles to effective interpretation.

Some Life Insurers Hit Pause on Older Americans During Coronavirus Crisis

3 months 3 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

3 months 3 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.

3 months 3 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.

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