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To Meet a Global Vaccines Pledge, the U.S. Seeks to Replace the Millions of AstraZeneca Doses Under Review

3 hours 20 min ago

(New York Times) – Officials are now working to replace tens of millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that it had initially planned to include in the donation with others made by Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, according to people familiar with the discussions. Those three vaccines are authorized for emergency use in the United States; AstraZeneca’s is not. (Read Full Article)

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‘I’m Still Feeling That We’re Failing’: Exasperated WHO Leader Speaks Out About Vaccine Inequality

3 hours 35 min ago

(Science) – Few have spoken out as forcefully against the global disparity in COVID-19 vaccine distribution as Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO). Tedros, as he prefers to be called, has labeled the inequity “vaccine apartheid” and a “catastrophic moral failure” that has led to a “two-track pandemic.” (Read Full Article)

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COVID May Cause Long-Term Brain Loss, Study Says

3 hours 51 min ago

(Medscape) – A new study from researchers in the United Kingdom has found that the coronavirus may cause long-term brain loss and could be the reason some COVID-19 patients lose their sense of smell and taste. “In short, the study suggests that there could be some long-term loss of brain tissue from COVID, and that would have some long-term consequences,” former FDA Director Scott Gottlieb, MD, said on CNBC’s The News with Shepard Smith. (Read Full Article)

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Moderna Plans to Expand Production to Make Covid-19 Vaccine Boosters, Supply More Countries

4 hours 5 min ago

(Wall Street Journal) – Moderna Inc. MRNA 4.54% is adding two new production lines at the rebuilt former Polaroid plant where it manufactures its Covid-19 vaccine, part of a push to prepare for making booster shots and the future of the pandemic. At a site brimming with new steel production tanks and heavy equipment, construction workers in neon safety vests are working to get one new line up and running by fall and the other by early 2022. The additions will help Moderna increase overall production capacity by 50% at its plant in the Boston suburb of Norwood, company officials said. (Read Full Article)

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Suspicion About Vaccination Videos Fuels Attacks on Health Workers in Indian-Controlled Kashmir.

June 18, 2021

(New York Times) – As the Indian government struggles to expand a Covid-19 vaccination program dogged by shortages and bureaucratic missteps, its health workers in Kashmir are facing another challenge: attacks by residents. In recent weeks, health workers in the Indian-controlled part of the region have reportedly been attacked multiple times for taking videos of vaccinations, including inside people’s homes. Many Kashmiris said that they did not want to be filmed because appearing in videos could indicate support for the Indian government and its policies. (Read Full Article)

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UN: Millions Driven from Homes in 2020 Despite COVID Crisis

June 18, 2021

(Associated Press) – War, violence, persecution, human rights violations and other factors caused nearly 3 million people to flee their homes last year, even though the COVID-19 crisis restricted movement worldwide, the U.N. refugee agency said in a report Friday.  In its latest Global Trends report, UNHCR said the world’s cumulative number of displaced people rose to 82.4 million — roughly the population of Germany and a new post-World War II record. (Read Full Article)

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Brazil Still Debating Virus Drug Amid 500,000 Deaths

June 18, 2021

(Associated Press) – As Brazil hurtles toward an official COVID-19 death toll of 500,000 — second-highest in the world — science is on trial inside the country and the truth is up for grabs. With the milestone likely to be reached this weekend, Brazil’s Senate is publicly investigating how the toll got so high, focusing on why President Jair Bolsonaro’s far-right government ignored opportunities to buy vaccines for months while it relentlessly pushed hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug that rigorous studies have shown to be ineffective in treating COVID-19. (Read Full Article)

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‘It’s a Tipping Point’: Flood of COVID-19 Vaccine Donations Buoys Mood at WHO

June 18, 2021

(Science) – But a meeting of the G7, held in Cornwall, U.K., last weekend, has changed the gloomy outlook. The leaders of the seven big industrialized democracies committed to donating 1 billion doses—870 million more than previously announced—by the end of 2022. The vast majority will move through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility, a nonprofit set up by WHO that Aylward is working with. COVAX has built a war chest of $9.6 billion solely for purchasing vaccine at discount prices for poor countries. (Read Full Article)

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US, International MIS-C Studies Yield Disparate Results

June 18, 2021

(Medscape)  -In the absence of formal clinical trials, pediatricians are racing to determine the efficacy and risks of currently used therapies for the SARS-CoV-2–linked multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). That requires rapid pragmatic evaluation of therapies. Two real-world observational studies published online June 16 in The New England Journal of Medicine do that, but with differing results. In the Overcoming COVID-19 study, investigators assessed initial therapy and outcomes for patients with MIS-C using surveillance data from 58 pediatric hospitals nationwide. (Read Full Article)

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Device Makers Have Funneled Billions to Orthopedic Surgeons Who Use Their Products

June 17, 2021

(Kaiser Health News) – In March 2020, the Department of Justice accused Chin and SpineFrontier of illegally funneling more than $8 million to nearly three dozen spine surgeons through “sham consulting fees” that paid them handsomely for doing little or no work. Chin had no comment on the civil suit, one of more than a dozen he has faced as a spine surgeon and businessman. Chin and SpineFrontier have yet to file a response in court. (Read Full Article)

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What If Doctors Are Always Watching, But Never There?

June 17, 2021

(Wired) – This new system, which continually monitors and collects patient data, has recently gone wireless. It is being tested on patients in a hospital in Birmingham, England, but it and similar remote systems might be used in patients’ homes in the future. The more I read on the subject, the more I realized that remote patient monitoring could change medicine radically: hastening medical responses and improving health outcomes; remapping the zones of health care; but also perhaps transforming how doctors like me think, in ways we might not so readily welcome. (Read Full Article)

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CureVac’s Covid-19 Vaccine Disappoints in Clinical Trial

June 16, 2021

(New York Times) – The German company CureVac delivered disappointing preliminary results on Wednesday from a clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine, dimming hopes that it could help fill the world’s great need. The trial, which included 40,000 volunteers in Latin America and Europe, estimated that CureVac’s mRNA vaccine had an efficacy of just 47 percent, among the lowest reported so far from any Covid-19 vaccine maker. The trial will continue as researchers monitor volunteers for new cases of Covid-19, with a final analysis expected in two to three weeks. (Read Full Article)

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Vaccine Maker Earned Record Profits But Delivered Disappointment in Return

June 16, 2021

(New York Times) – Record profits warranted record bonuses. That was the recommendation in January by executives at the biotech firm Emergent BioSolutions. The board of directors agreed, signing off on nearly $8 million in cash and stock awards for five company leaders. The bonuses arrived this spring even as Congress was investigating the company’s production of Covid-19 vaccines in Baltimore, where manufacturing mistakes have rendered 75 million doses unusable and forced a two-month-long shutdown of operations. Emergent has nonetheless enjoyed the best financial year in its two-decade history, thanks largely to the government’s largess and decision to sidestep the usual contracting rules, interviews and previously undisclosed documents show. (Read Full Article)

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Regeneron Antibody Saves Lives in Some Hospitalized Covid Patients, Study Finds

June 16, 2021

(STAT News) – A monoclonal antibody treatment for Covid-19 developed by Regeneron saved lives among hospitalized patients who had not mounted their own immune response, a finding that could dramatically change the way that doctors will use the therapy, researchers in the United Kingdom announced Wednesday. The new data mark the first time that a medicine that works by fighting the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been shown to reduce mortality. Other treatments, such as the steroid dexamethasone, have been shown to save lives by tamping down the immune system’s overactive response to the virus. (Read Full Article)

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Sewage Sleuths Helped an Arizona Town Beat Back Covid-19. For Wastewater Epidemiology, That’s Just the Start

June 16, 2021

(STAT News) – In the last year, the nation’s enthusiasm has finally caught up to his own. As the pandemic spread, hundreds of U.S. cities, states, prisons, universities, and private businesses leaped, sometimes clumsily, into wastewater surveillance. Federal investments in validating the science and building out a standardized national system followed. With vaccines driving SARS-CoV-2 underground, the question now is, what will governments, schools, and businesses do with all that surveillance infrastructure? (Read Full Article)

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Patients Awarded $15M After Fertility Clinic Accident Destroys Eggs, Embryos

June 16, 2021

(The Hill) – A California jury has awarded nearly $15 million to five patients of a San Francisco fertility center who lost eggs and embryos due to a storage tank failure.  In March 2018, a cryopreservation tank failed at Pacific Fertility Center’s San Francisco, rendering thousands of eggs and embryos unviable. The facility said the tank lost liquid nitrogen due to a defect and was unable to maintain a safe temperature for the eggs and embryos inside.  (Read Full Article)

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Genome Researchers Question Security Provisions in New U.S. Senate Bill

June 16, 2021

(Science) – Buried in a 2400-page bill approved last week by the U.S. Senate to help the United States compete with China is language that is drawing fire from human genome researchers. It would require the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop new security protocols aimed at preventing the misuse of U.S.-funded genomic data by China and other nations. (Read Full Article)

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Forensic Database Challenge Over Ethics of DNA Holdings

June 15, 2021

(Nature) – The YHRD, which was first released online in 2000, is now widely used across the world to help solve sex crimes and settle paternity cases. Holding more than 300,000 anonymous Y-chromosome profiles, it shows how particular genetic markers are fingerprints of male lineages in more than 1,300 distinct global populations. It can point to the likely geographic origin of mystery males, as in the Kollum case, but is now more often relied on to calculate the weight of evidence against a male suspect whose Y-chromosome DNA profile matches traces found at a crime scene. Although the YHRD is a research database, scientists both from academia and crime laboratories have uploaded data to it, and it has become a key tool for prosecutors and defence lawyers. (Read Full Article)

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ACA: Pump the Break on New Organ Procurement Method

June 15, 2021

(Medpage Today) – Use of a new method of organ procurement that aims to preserve circulation to organs such as the heart and intestine after inducing brain death should be paused, the American College of Physicians (ACP) said in a statement this week. Though organs remain in short supply, ACP said the proposed method, which has been called normothermic regional perfusion with controlled donation after circulatory determination of death (NRP-cDCD), “appears to violate” the dead-donor rule — that donors cannot be made dead in order to obtain their organs, and that organ retrieval cannot cause death. (Read Full Article)

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COVID-19 Exposed the Faults in America’s Elder Care System. This Is Our Best Shot to Fix Them

June 15, 2021

(TIME) – Many long-term-care experts would say Connolly was right. The pace at which that first U.S. coronavirus outbreak spread through Life Care, killing dozens of residents in weeks, shocked the public. But for those familiar with long-term care, it wasn’t surprising. “We really failed in a lot of ways, historically but also during this pandemic, to value older adults,” says David Grabowski, a professor at Harvard Medical School and an expert on long-term care. That is to say, the U.S. health care system basically left its nursing-home residents as sitting ducks for a viral pandemic like COVID-19. (Read Full Article)

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