Bioethics.com

Subscribe to Bioethics.com feed
Your global information source on bioethics news, issues, & events
Updated: 46 min 23 sec ago

Scientists Relieved as Coronavirus Vaccine Trial Restarts–But Question Lack of Transparency

September 14, 2020

(Nature) – The UK trial of a leading coronavirus vaccine, which was abruptly halted last week because of safety concerns, restarted on Saturday, after the university conducting the trial said an independent committee found that it was safe to do so.  The University of Oxford and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca paused enrolment in global trials of the vaccine candidate they are developing on 6 September, after a person participating in the UK trial experienced an adverse reaction.

Vaccine Makers Keep Safety Details Quiet, Alarming Scientists

September 14, 2020

(New York Times) – It’s standard for drug companies to withhold details of clinical trials until after they are completed, tenaciously guarding their intellectual property and competitive edge. But these are extraordinary times, and now there is a growing outcry among independent scientists and public health experts who are pushing the companies to be far more open with the public in the midst of a pandemic that has already killed more than 193,000 people in the United States.

Kids at Day Care Spread COVID-19 to Parents and Teachers, CDC Says

September 14, 2020

(NBC News) – Very young children can catch COVID-19 and spread the virus to adults, even if they never show symptoms, according to a study published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The findings have implications as day care centers and schools reopen across the country — and as a growing number of children are being diagnosed with the coronavirus.

China Has Quietly Vaccinated More than 100,000 People for Covid-19 Before Completing Safety Trials

September 14, 2020

(Vox) – Individuals received one of two Sinopharm vaccines in development in an emergency use program launched by the Chinese government in late July, which also authorized a third vaccine, CoronaVac, developed by the privately owned drugmaker Sinovac Biotech. Under Chinese vaccine law, such authorization is allowed within a certain scope and time frame during a health emergency. China’s top vaccine official mentioned front-line medical workers and customs officials when he first announced the program, implying these high-risk groups had been prioritized to receive the still-experimental vaccines.

One Sperm Donor. 36 Children. A Mess of Lawsuits.

September 14, 2020

(The Atlantic) – To the mothers, he was just Donor 9623. They did not know his name, but from his glowing sperm-donor profile, they knew he had an IQ of 160, spoke four languages, was pursuing a doctorate in neuroscience engineering, and looked like Tom Cruise. But Donor 9623 wasn’t who he said he was. He wasn’t in graduate school. He had never even finished college. The lies began to unravel in 2014, when the sperm bank accidentally revealed his name—Chris Aggeles—and his email address in a message to a group of mothers. By then, the sperm he’d produced over 14 years had been sent to multiple states and three countries, resulting in at least 36 children.

Dozens of Hospitals Poised to Defy FDA on Plasma Therapy for COVID-19 Patients

September 11, 2020

(Los Angeles Times) – Dozens of major hospitals across the U.S. are grappling with whether to ignore a federal decision allowing broader emergency use of blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to treat the disease in favor of dedicating their resources to a gold-standard clinical trial that could help settle the science for good. As many as 45 hospitals from coast to coast have expressed interest in collaborating on a randomized, controlled clinical trial sponsored by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said principal investigator Dr. Todd Rice.

The Ethics of Pausing a Vaccine Trial in the Midst of a Pandemic: a Conversation with Ruth Faden

September 11, 2020

(STAT News) – The revelation that AstraZeneca paused its clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine has focused attention on the company and the clinical trial process. The hold occurred after a participant in the trial developed symptoms consistent with a rare but serious spinal inflammatory disorder called transverse myelitis. To better understand the ethics of vaccine trials in the time of coronavirus, I talked with Ruth Faden, a Johns Hopkins bioethicist with a special interest in vaccine development. Here’s a lightly edited version of our conversation.

Risk Score Predicts COVID-19 Mortality, Outperforms Others

September 11, 2020

(Medscape) – The scoring system classifies patients as having low, intermediate, high, or very high likelihood of death on the basis of a total score from 0 to 21, with higher numbers reflecting greater risk. People in the low-risk group could potentially be managed in the community, the researchers note. Those in the intermediate group might be monitored on a hospital ward, whereas patients with a high risk for death could be triaged to prompt, aggressive treatment. High-risk patients might receive steroid treatment and be transferred to critical care, for example.

Claims of 99% Accuracy for UK Covid Antibody Test ‘Cannot Be Trusted’

September 10, 2020

(The Guardian) – Claims that a rapid Covid-19 antibody test the government hopes to roll out this year is more than 99% accurate cannot be trusted, says a leading expert, calling for the full trial data to be made public. Jon Deeks, a professor of biostatistics and head of the test evaluation research group at the University of Birmingham, says the data published by Abingdon Health about the performance of its fingerprick antibody test were inadequate. The government hopes to roll out the test to millions of people.

Why AstraZeneca Pausing Its COVID-19 Vaccine Trial May Be Good News

September 10, 2020

(ABC News) – The promising vaccine candidate created by researchers at Oxford had been marching through rounds of clinical trials before word of the voluntary pause came down Tuesday night. Trial participants in the U.S had started injections just last week. Specialists ABC News spoke with said they welcomed the pause.

Wildfires Kill Seven and Displace Thousands in Oregon, California and Washington

September 10, 2020

(The Guardian) – Wildfires searing through the American west have killed at least seven people, leveled entire neighborhoods and displaced tens of thousands, forcing stretched firefighting crews to make tough decisions about where to deploy.

Kids’ Smartwatches Are a Security Nightmare Despite Years of Warnings

September 10, 2020

(Wired) – Connecting every possible device in our lives to the internet has always represented a security risk. But that risk is far more pronounced when it involves a smartwatch strapped to your child’s wrist. Now, even after years of warnings about the security failings of many of those devices, one group of researchers has shown that several remain appallingly easy for hackers to abuse.

Oregon Fires: Evacuated Prisoners Sleep on Floor in Packed Covid-19 Hotspot

September 10, 2020

(The Guardian) – Unprecedented wildfires and rushed evacuations in Oregon have wreaked havoc on the state’s incarcerated population, with thousands now packed into a single overcrowded prison that was already a major Covid-19 hotspot. A destructive and rapidly spreading fire in Marion county prompted the state to evacuate three prisons on Tuesday, transferring 1,450 people to the Oregon state penitentiary (OSP) in Salem. Evacuees are sleeping on the floor and on emergency beds throughout OSP, including in indoor recreational areas, program rooms and other facilities not typically used for housing.

The Controversial Company Using DNA to Sketch the Faces of Criminals

September 9, 2020

(Nature) – It was April 2019 when it all started to fall apart for Parabon Nanolabs. At the time, it was the most famous forensic-genetics company on the planet. From its headquarters in Reston, Virginia, Parabon was helping police to crack cold-crime cases almost weekly, such as the murder of a Canadian couple in 1987 and the case of a young woman who was sexually assaulted and killed in the 1960s. The company had made its name by comparing suspects’ DNA to profiles on genealogy databases and piecing together family trees to track down alleged offenders.

Why COVID-19 Is More Deadly in People with Obesity–Even If They’re Young

September 9, 2020

(Science) – Since the pandemic began, dozens of studies have reported that many of the sickest COVID-19 patients have been people with obesity. In recent weeks, that link has come into sharper focus as large new population studies have cemented the association and demonstrated that even people who are merely overweight are at higher risk. For example, in the first metaanalysis of its kind, published on 26 August in Obesity Reviews, an international team of researchers pooled data from scores of peer-reviewed papers capturing 399,000 patients. They found that people with obesity who contracted SARS-CoV-2 were 113% more likely than people of healthy weight to land in the hospital, 74% more likely to be admitted to an ICU, and 48% more likely to die.

Covid-19 Vaccine Trial Participant Had Serious Neurological Symptoms, but Could Be Discharged Today, AstraZeneca CEO Says

September 9, 2020

(STAT News) – The participant who triggered a global shutdown of AstraZeneca’s Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trials was a woman in the United Kingdom who experienced neurological symptoms consistent with a rare but serious spinal inflammatory disorder called transverse myelitis, the drug maker’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot, said during a private conference call with investors on Wednesday morning. The woman’s diagnosis has not been confirmed yet, but she is improving and will likely be discharged from the hospital as early as Wednesday, Soriot said.

AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine Study Put on Hold Due to Suspected Adverse Reaction in Participant in the U.K.

September 9, 2020

(STAT News) – A large, Phase 3 study testing a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford at dozens of sites across the U.S. has been put on hold due to a suspected serious adverse reaction in a participant in the United Kingdom. A spokesperson for AstraZeneca, a frontrunner in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine, said in a statement that the company’s “standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data.” In a follow-up statement, AstraZeneca said it initiated the study hold.

A New Theory Asks: Could a Mask Be a Crude ‘Vaccine’?

September 8, 2020

(New York Times) – Masked exposures are no substitute for a bona fide vaccine. But data from animals infected with the coronavirus, as well as insights gleaned from other diseases, suggest that masks, by cutting down on the number of viruses that encounter a person’s airway, might reduce the wearer’s chances of getting sick. And if a small number of pathogens still slip through, the researchers argue, these might prompt the body to produce immune cells that can remember the virus and stick around to fight it off again.

The Coronavirus Is Mutating–Does It Matter?

September 8, 2020

(Nature) – Compared with HIV, SARS-CoV-2 is changing much more slowly as it spreads. But one mutation stood out to Korber. It was in the gene encoding the spike protein, which helps virus particles to penetrate cells. Korber saw the mutation appearing again and again in samples from people with COVID-19. At the 614th amino-acid position of the spike protein, the amino acid aspartate (D, in biochemical shorthand) was regularly being replaced by glycine (G) because of a copying fault that altered a single nucleotide in the virus’s 29,903-letter RNA code. Virologists were calling it the D614G mutation

It’s Not Easy to Get a Coronavirus Test for a Child

September 8, 2020

(New York Times) – As child care centers and schools reopen, parents are encountering another coronavirus testing bottleneck: Few sites will test children. Even in large cities with dozens of test sites, parents are driving long distances and calling multiple centers to track down one accepting children. The age policies at testing sites reflect a range of concerns, including differences in health insurance, medical privacy rules, holes in test approval, and fears of squirmy or shrieking children.

Pages