News from Bioethics.com

Some California Hospitals Refused Covid-19 Transfers for Financial Reasons, State Emails Show

2 months 3 weeks

(The Wall Street Journal) – Several large Southern California hospital systems improperly refused or delayed accepting Covid-19 patients based on their insurance status, according to internal emails among local and state government, hospital and emergency-response officials, leaving severely ill patients waiting for care and adding strain on hospitals overrun by the pandemic. Disaster-response experts said the refusals and delays exposed ways that some hospitals have put finances ahead of pandemic relief. Some instances might have violated a federal law that protects access to emergency care, while in other instances the actions ran counter to medical ethics, the experts said.

Conservatives Confront Moral Dilemma of Vaccines and Treatments Derived from Fetal Tissue Cells

2 months 3 weeks

(ABC News) – The race to develop vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 has newly highlighted a longstanding dilemma for religious conservatives: much of the cutting-edge research relies on the use of material derived from human fetal tissue — something they have spent years fighting against.

Are the Risks of Reopening Schools Exaggerated?

2 months 3 weeks

(NPR) – Despite widespread concerns, two new international studies show no consistent relationship between in-person K-12 schooling and the spread of the coronavirus. And a third study from the United States shows no elevated risk to childcare workers who stayed on the job. Combined with anecdotal reports from a number of U.S. states where schools are open, as well as a crowdsourced dashboard of around 2,000 U.S. schools, some medical experts are saying it’s time to shift the discussion from the risks of opening K-12 schools to the risks of keeping them closed.

OxyContin Maker to Plead Guilty to Federal Criminal Charges, Pay $8 Billion, And Will Close the Company

2 months 3 weeks

(CNN) – Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has agreed to plead guilty to three federal criminal charges for its role in creating the nation’s opioid crisis and will pay more than $8 billion and close down the company. The money will go to opioid treatment and abatement programs. The privately held company has agreed to pay a $3.5 billion fine as well as forfeit an additional $2 billion in past profits, in addition to the $2.8 billion it agreed to pay in civil liability.

Why Big Pharma Has Abandoned Antibiotics

2 months 3 weeks

(Nature) – Despite the clear need for more antimicrobial agents, such drugs have not been forthcoming. Fewer new antibiotics are reaching the market; the last entirely original class of antibiotic was discovered in the late 1980s. One reason is that discovering and bringing antibiotics to market is often not profitable for pharmaceutical companies.

The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Caused Nearly 300,000 More Deaths Than Expected in a Typical Year

2 months 3 weeks

(Washington Post) – The coronavirus pandemic has left about 299,000 more people dead in the United States than would be expected in a typical year, two-thirds of them from covid-19 and the rest from other causes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday. The CDC said the novel coronavirus, which causes covid-19, has taken a disproportionate toll on Latinos and Blacks, as previous analyses have noted. But the CDC also found, surprisingly, that it has struck 25- to 44-year-olds very hard: Their “excess death” rate is up 26.5?percent over previous years, the largest change for any age group.

Doctors: Lonely and Burned Out in COVID-19. How Are They Coping?

2 months 3 weeks

(Medscape) – “We know that stress, which was already significant in physicians, has increased dramatically for many physicians during the pandemic. That’s understandable, given the circumstances they’ve been working under,” said Christine A. Sinsky, MD, vice president of professional satisfaction at the American Medical Association. Physicians are stressed about potentially contracting the virus or infecting family members; being overworked and fatigued; witnessing wrenching scenes of patients dying alone; grieving the loss of patients, colleagues, or family members; and sometimes lacking adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), she said.

Prepping for COVID-Flu Triage as Flu Season Begins

2 months 3 weeks

(Medscape) – The set-up for primary care physicians this winter is looking worrisome. “The worst case is that you have high co-circulation of both SARS-CoV-2 and the flu, and you’re using a lot of the same reagents and supplies for both of those pathogens and you run into supply chain issues or capacity issues at individual laboratories because of testing volume,” Kelly Wroblewski, director of infectious diseases at the Association of Public Health Laboratories, told Medscape Medical News.

Exclusive: AstraZeneca U.S. COVID-19 Vaccine Trial May Resume as Soon as This Week–Sources

2 months 3 weeks

(Reuters) – AstraZeneca Plc’s AZN.L COVID-19 vaccine trial in the United States is expected to resume as early as this week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration completed its review of a serious illness, four sources told Reuters. AstraZeneca’s large, late-stage U.S. trial has been on hold since Sept. 6, after a participant in the company’s UK trial fell ill with what was suspected to be a rare spinal inflammatory disorder called transverse myelitis.

Remember Ebola? Well, Now There’s a Drug for That

2 months 3 weeks

(NPR) – This month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted formal approval to an antibody cocktail from the pharmaceutical company Regeneron that’s been shown to dramatically reduce an Ebola patient’s chances of dying. The treatment, which has been known as REGN-EB3, is now being marketed under the brand name Inmazeb. (Regeneron is also making another antibody cocktail to treat COVID-19. 

U.K. to Infect Healthy Volunteers in Covid-19 Vaccine Research Trial

2 months 3 weeks

(STAT News) – U.K. researchers are preparing to infect healthy young volunteers with the virus that causes Covid-19, becoming the first to announce plans to use the controversial technique to study the disease and potentially speed up development of a vaccine that could help end the pandemic. This type of research, known as a human challenge study, is used infrequently because some consider the risk involved in infecting otherwise healthy individuals to be unethical.

‘At a Breaking Point’: New Surge of Covid-19 Cases Has States, Hospitals Scrambling, Yet Again

2 months 3 weeks

(STAT News) – As hospitalizations for Covid-19 inch up around the country, some states are readying plans for field hospitals. Communities are delaying reopening plans and even imposing new measures, though some governors remain opposed to additional restrictions. Deaths — currently standing about 220,000 — have not surged again yet, but that might just be a matter of time.

Netherlands to Allow for Physician-Assisted Death of ‘Incurably Ill’ Children

2 months 4 weeks

(The Hill) – Dutch officials have announced plans to allow doctors to end the lives of terminally ill kids under the age of 13, according to multiple reports. The Netherlands currently permits doctors to facilitate the deaths of children who are over 12 years old and and children under 1 year old. Dutch health minister Hugo de Jonge proposed expanding the country’s law to include children between the ages of 1 and 12 who are dying in a Tuesday letter to parliament, The New York Times reported.

As the Coronavirus Surges, a New Culprit Emerges: Pandemic Fatigue

2 months 4 weeks

(New York Times) – The virus has taken different paths through these countries as leaders have tried to tamp down the spread with a range of restrictions. Shared, though, is a public weariness and a growing tendency to risk the dangers of the coronavirus, out of desire or necessity: With no end in sight, many people are flocking to bars, family parties, bowling alleys and sporting events much as they did before the virus hit, and others must return to school or work as communities seek to resuscitate economies. And in sharp contrast to the spring, the rituals of hope and unity that helped people endure the first surge of the virus have given way to exhaustion and frustration.

A New Study Shows Malaria’s Often Neglected Toll on a Vulnerable Population: Pregnant Women

2 months 4 weeks

(Vox) – Malaria kills hundreds of thousands of people every year, especially young children. It’s also exceptionally dangerous to another at-risk group: pregnant women. Researchers have estimated that 10 to 20 percent of maternal mortality in countries where malaria is endemic is malaria-related. That’s almost 30,000 women every year. Pregnancy loss, and long-term disability caused by exposure to malaria in utero, are even more common. And many drugs that are used to save people dying of malaria are not safe to use during pregnancy, or are not widely used even though they are safe.

UNICEF to Stockpile Over Half a Billion Syringes for Future COVID-19 Vaccine

2 months 4 weeks

(NPR) – UNICEF, the largest single buyer of vaccines in the world, wants to hit the ground running as soon as a COVID-19 vaccine is ready. The United Nations agency said Monday it plans to stockpile 520 million syringes by the end of 2020. It also will map out global distribution and storage plans for a future COVID-19 vaccine. Purchasing the syringes now will help reduce the pressure on the market, the organization said, and will ensure timely availability once a vaccine is rolled out.

India’s First Saviour Sibling Saves Brother’s Life at Age 1; Netizens Question Ethics

2 months 4 weeks

(IB Times) – We’ve all heard of how some people are born to do certain things. How about some people being given birth just to do certain things? In what can be termed as a medical milestone for the nation, doctors in Ahmedabad have successfully conducted India’s first ‘saviour sibling’ experiment. One-year-old Kavya Solanki has become India’s first ‘saviour sibling’, by donating her bone marrow to save her brother’s life.

China Rapidly Expands Use of Experimental COVID-19 Vaccines

3 months 2 days

(Associated Press) – China is rapidly increasing the number of people receiving its experimental coronavirus vaccines, with a city offering one to the general public and a biotech company providing another free to students going abroad. The city of Jiaxing, south of Shanghai, is offering a vaccine under development by Sinovac, it said in an announcement Thursday.

Pfizer Won’t Apply for Covid-19 Vaccine Authorization Before Mid-November, CEO Confirms

3 months 2 days

(STAT News) – Pfizer confirmed Friday it expects to seek emergency authorization of its experimental vaccine against Covid-19, if it is effective, in the third week of November. An analysis of the efficacy of the vaccine could be available sooner, the company said in an open letter from its CEO, Albert Bourla, but required safety data will take longer. 

Virus at ‘Turning Point’ in Europe, Hitting At-Risk Groups

3 months 2 days

(ABC News) – Doctors are warning that Europe is at a turning point as the coronavirus surges back across the continent, including among vulnerable people, and governments try to impose restrictions without locking whole economies down. With newly confirmed cases reaching records, the Czech Republic has shut schools and is building a field hospital, Poland has limited restaurant hours and closed gyms and schools, and France is planning a 9 p.m. curfew in Paris and other big cities. In Britain, authorities are closing pubs and bars in areas in the country’s north, while putting limits on socializing in London and other parts of the country.

WHO Study Finds Remdesivir Didn’t Help COVID-19 Patients

3 months 2 days

(Associated Press) – A large study led by the World Health Organization suggests that the antiviral drug remdesivir did not help hospitalized COVID-19 patients, in contrast to an earlier study that made the medicine a standard of care in the United States and many other countries. The results announced Friday do not negate the previous ones, and the WHO study was not as rigorous as the earlier one led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. But they add to concerns about how much value the pricey drug gives because none of the studies have found it can improve survival.

Why Most US Home Health Aides ‘Can’t Afford Not to Work’–Even Without PPE

3 months 2 days

(The Guardian) – During the pandemic, home health aides have buttressed the US healthcare system by keeping the most vulnerable patients – seniors, the disabled, the infirm – out of hospitals. Yet even as they have put themselves at risk, this workforce of 2.3 million – of whom nine in 10 are women, nearly two-thirds are minorities and almost one-third foreign-born – has largely been overlooked. Home health providers scavenged for their own face masks and other protective equipment, blended disinfectant and fabricated sanitizing wipes amid widespread shortages. They have often done it all on poverty wages, without overtime pay, hazard pay, sick leave and health insurance. And they have gotten sick and died – leaving little to their survivors.

Eli Lilly to Continue Other COVID-19 Antibody Drug Trials After Pausing One on Safety Concerns

3 months 2 days

(Medscape) – Eli Lilly & Co on Wednesday said that other trials of its experimental COVID-19 antibody drug bamlanivimab will continue apace after it paused one ongoing trial of the drug, citing safety concerns. The paused trial, which Lilly calls ACTIV-3, focused on hospitalized patients. Lilly said it differed from its other trials in some key respects, including the fact that the patients had more serious illness and were being treated with other drugs, including Gilead Sciences Inc’s remdesivir.

Covid-19 Is Helping Wealthy Countries Talk About Death

3 months 2 days

(The Economist) – A new survey by Hospice uk, a charity, found that this year 40% of British who lost a family member to covid-19 wrote down their end-of-life wishes, and a third planned their own funerals. (Overall, less than a fifth of Britons have done either.) More people are opting to die at home: since early June the percentage has been 30-40 points above the five-year average in England and Wales. Reminders of the epidemic—not just news reports but masks and hand-sanitiser bottles—raise the subliminal awareness of death which psychologists term “mortality salience”. “We are surrounded by death whether we like it or not, and it is healthier for us to accept it,” says Tracey Bleakley, head of Hospice uk.

 

Long COVID ‘May Be Four Syndromes’

3 months 2 days

(Medscape) – The condition commonly called ‘long COVID’ may not be one syndrome but possibly up to four different syndromes, according to a new review. The finding comes from a dynamic themed review of available scientific evidence published by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The paper, Living with COVID19 draws on the latest expert consensus and published evidence, as well as the experience of patients.

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