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COVID-19 Is Forcing Us to Talk About Rationing Health Care in the U.S. Again. Could We Have Avoided This?

September 13, 2021

(TIME) – Those tough choices, he admitted, include discussions about whether scarce resources should go to people who haven’t been vaccinated, and the difficult ethical questions about personal choice that rationing crises raise. Doctors and hospital administrators are making heart-breaking decisions about who gets access to the increasingly few ICU beds. Should vaccinated people take precedence? Should people who followed mask and social distancing recommendations be prioritized over people who flouted these public health guidelines? While Fauci said such factors should not factor into a person’s care, he acknowledged that faced with such difficult choices, inevitably, “there’s talk of that.” (Read Full Article)

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Covid-19 Deaths in Delta Surge Trend Younger in U.S.

September 13, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – A surge in Covid-19 deaths caused by the highly contagious Delta variant is hitting working-age people hard while highlighting the risks for people who remain unvaccinated. Federal data show Covid-19 deaths among people under 55 have roughly matched highs near 1,800 a week set during last winter’s surge. These data show weekly tallies for overall Covid-19 deaths, meanwhile, remain well under half of the pandemic peak near 26,000 reached in January. (Read Full Article)

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Brazil Moves Away from Chinese Covid-19 Vaccine

September 13, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – Brazil, a major buyer of China’s CoronaVac shot and a poster child for Beijing’s efforts at vaccine diplomacy, is making a speedy retreat from the Covid-19 vaccine as concerns grow over its efficacy against the Delta variant and other vaccines become more readily available. Brazil’s federal government has halted negotiations over additional doses of Sinovac’s vaccine, CoronaVac, spokespeople for the government and its local producer, the Butantan Institute, told The Wall Street Journal. The government has also said it won’t recommend use of CoronaVac for a third booster shot. (Read Full Article)

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Doctors Divided About Need for COVID-19 Boosters: Poll

September 13, 2021

(Medscape) – Current scientific evidence does not indicate that people who are not immunocompromised need booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines, a team of experts write in a viewpoint article in The Lancet. Research shows that the vaccines remain effective at preventing severe COVID-19, according to the group of experts. They include two high-level officials in the office of the US Food and Drug Administration that regulates vaccines who recently announced plans to leave the agency. (Read Full Article)

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The U.S. Isn’t Vaccinating Most of the World–But China Might

September 13, 2021

(Axios) – The global COVID-19 vaccination campaign began nine months ago, and 58% of the world’s population has yet to receive at least one dose. The big picture: Raw material shortages, complex and costly manufacturing, and vaccine makers’ choices have made it clear the U.S. and its drug companies likely won’t get the poor, unvaccinated parts of the world out of the pandemic — but China might. (Read Full Article)

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Tech Companies Wade Into Abortion Politics in Texas

September 13, 2021

(Wired) – First came the statements from reproductive organizations. Then came the tech companies. The day after the US Supreme Court decided not to block a law in Texas banning most abortions after six weeks, Dallas-based Match Group, which owns Tinder, OkCupid, and Hinge, sent a memo to its employees. “The company generally does not take political stands unless it is relevant to our business,” CEO Shar Dubey wrote. “But in this instance, I personally, as a woman in Texas, could not keep silent.” The company set up a fund to cover travel expenses for employees seeking care outside of Texas. Bumble, headquartered in Austin, set up a similar fund. (Read Full Article)

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FDA “Will Follow the Science” to Approve COVID Vaccine for Kids Under 12

September 10, 2021

(Axios) – The Food and Drug Administration said on Friday that it is “working around the clock” to support the process of making the coronavirus vaccine available for children under the age of 12. Why it matters: The number of children getting hospitalized due to the virus is increasing, with some infectious disease doctors worrying that the Delta variant could be causing more serious illness in kids. (Read Full Article)

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Better Data on Ivermectin Is Finally on Its Way

September 10, 2021

(Wired) – Ivermectin had some promising early results against the virus in petri dishes and in smaller and observational studies, but it still hasn’t aced a trial. Of two apparent large-scale confirmations of its effects, one (a preprint from researchers in Egypt) got retracted over concerns about plagiarism and fake data. Scientists and journalists at BuzzFeed have found irregularities in the data from another. A separate, positive review of all the data on ivermectin was rejected from a journal after provisional acceptance for concerns about research integrity and conflicts of interest, while a strict meta-analysis of all the randomized, controlled trials of ivermectin against Covid found no positive effect for the drug. The FDA says people shouldn’t take it. The American Medical Association and two pharmacist associations have issued a statement recommending that none of their members prescribe ivermectin for Covid-19 outside of a clinical trial. (Oh, and a physician in Arkansas gave the drug to unknowing, unconsenting prison inmates, which generally is not the side of history you want to be on.) Yet ivermectin is still a big deal in the US. (Read Full Article)

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Covid-19 Virus Variants Mu and Lambda Unlikely to Supplant Delta

September 10, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – The Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus appears well positioned to maintain its dominance over new variants such as Lambda and Mu, virologists say. Delta accounts for 99% of new Covid-19 cases in the U.S. and roughly 88% of cases globally, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Nextstrain, an open-source pathogen-tracking service. Virologists expect Delta to outcompete new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including Lambda and Mu, in their hunt for people susceptible to Covid-19. The scientists say new case waves would likely be driven by Delta and its sub-variants rather than a new virus lineage. That’s because Delta has evolved to be so transmissible that other variants can’t keep up with the pace of its spread. (Read Full Article)

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Tech Advances Put the Annual Doctor Visit on the Critical List

September 10, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – For Dr. Hyman and many other physicians and their patients, the pandemic triggered a disruption in one of medicine’s most common encounters—and, through virtual visits, provided an early glimpse of the physical of the future. An explosion of advances in digital technology, imaging, gene sequencing and artificial intelligence will likely transform the physical into an even more virtual experience. In five to 10 years, says Michael Blum, a cardiologist and chief digital transformation officer at University of California San Francisco, “I’ll be able to do the same quality of physical exam out of the office as if you were right in front of me in the office.” (Read Full Article)

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Medical Boards: Docs Who Spread COVID Misinformation Put License at Risk

September 10, 2021

(Medscape) – Three primary care boards issued a joint statement today backing the Federation of State Medical Boards’ recent statement saying that if physicians spread misinformation about COVID-19, their medical license could be suspended or revoked. Leaders of the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM), the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), and the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) said they support FSMB’s position. (Read Full Article)

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More Reassuring Data on COVID-19 Vaccines and Pregnancy

September 10, 2021

(Medscape) – Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine early in pregnancy is not associated with an increased risk for spontaneous abortion, new research suggests. The study, published online in JAMA, evaluated the proportion of women who received the vaccine and had ongoing pregnancies in comparison with those who experienced a miscarriage or spontaneous abortion. (Read Full Article)

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What Texas Abortion Foes Want Next

September 9, 2021

(The Atlantic) – John Seago, the legislative director of Texas Right to Life, shepherded and supported the passage of this law. “This is a phenomenal victory and the most significant accomplishment for the Texas pro-life movement since Roe,” he told me. Just five years ago, his group and its allies faced a major legal defeat in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, in which the Supreme Court overturned legislation restricting abortion procedures in Texas. Today, Seago and his allies feel much more optimistic that they can end legal abortion, and not just with S.B. 8. This fall, the justices are slated to consider Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban and potentially reevaluate the constitutional right to abortion laid out in the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade. If Seago and his allies get their way, abortion would be completely illegal in the United States. But would they be ready, if that were to become reality? I spoke with Seago yesterday afternoon. Our conversation has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity. (Read Full Article)

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Study: Nearly 69K COVID-19 Cases, 17K Deaths at Nursing Homes Went Uncounted

September 9, 2021

(UPI) – Nearly 69,000 additional COVID-19 cases and 17,000 more deaths occured at nursing homes in the United States in 2020 than were reported, an analysis published Thursday by JAMA Network Open found. This means that at least 40% of COVID-19 cases and deaths went unreported — at least initially — at these facilities across the country, the data showed. (Read Full Article)

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Africa’s C.D.C. Director Urges Wealthy Nations to Forego Covid Vaccine Boosters and Donate Them Instead

September 9, 2021

(New York Times) – The decision by some rich nations to offer booster shots will hinder coronavirus vaccine access for low-income countries, the director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday, arguing there is no conclusive evidence healthy people who are not immunocompromised need an extra shot. In wealthy countries — including Germany, France, Israel and the United States — there has been growing momentum to offer additional doses to certain vulnerable populations, including older citizens, and to the general public. (Read Full Article)

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Data Science Education Lacks a Much-Needed Focus on Ethics

September 9, 2021

(The Conversation) – Undergraduate training for data scientists – dubbed the sexiest job of the 21st century by Harvard Business Review – falls short in preparing students for the ethical use of data science, our new study found. Data science lies at the nexus of statistics and computer science applied to a particular field such as astronomy, linguistics, medicine, psychology or sociology. The idea behind this data crunching is to use big data to address otherwise unsolvable problems, such as how health care providers can create personalized medicine based on a patient’s genes and how businesses can make purchase predictions based on customers’ behavior. (Read Full Article)

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Pandemic Lockdown Tied to Worse Outcomes in Metastatic Colorectal Cancer, French Study Says

September 8, 2021

(STAT News) – Screening rates fell precipitously for cancers with common tests, including mammograms for breast cancer, Pap tests for cervical cancer, PSA testing for prostate, CT scans for lung cancer and colonoscopies for colorectal cancer. Those rates have rebounded somewhat, but another question may take longer to answer: Does the delay in screening matter? A small new study from France is one of the first to show how diagnostic delays could lead to worse outcomes. The paper, published Wednesday in JAMA Oncology, compared people newly diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer before and after the country’s 55-day pandemic lockdown in 2020. It found that 40 people diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer after the lockdown had a tumor burden nearly seven times higher than 40 people diagnosed before the pandemic. For people with a higher tumor burden, their median survival decreased from 20 months to just under 15 months. (Read Full Article)

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Idaho Patients in Hospital Halls Amid COVID Rationed Care

September 8, 2021

(Associated Press) – Amid the Idaho coronavirus surge that prompted officials to authorize hospitals to ration health care, Army soldiers sent to one hospital have traded their fatigues for personal protective equipment to help treat a flood of infected patients. The conference center at Kootenai Health hospital in the city Coeur d’Alene has been converted into a field hospital of sorts — with some of its classrooms filled with hospital beds where patients receive oxygen or get monoclonal antibody treatment, hospital officials said. (Read Full Article)

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Mexico’s Supreme Court Decriminalizes Abortion in Historic Shift

September 8, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – Mexico’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled that making abortion a crime was unconstitutional, paving the way for far greater access to legal abortions in the country with the world’s second-largest Roman Catholic population. In a 10-0 vote, Mexico’s justices struck down several provisions of law in the northern states of Sinaloa and Coahuila. The law in Coahuila, which shares a border with Texas, called for one to three years in prison for anyone who terminates a pregnancy or assists in the procedure. The law in Sinaloa defined life as beginning at conception.  (Read Full Article)

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Businesses Grapple with Vax Mandates and COVID Policies

September 8, 2021

(Axios) – A growing number of U.S. companies have mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for employees. But in the absence of a federal mandate there’s a wide variance in what’s happening — mandates for all, some, or none — with employee demands being put front and center thanks to the Great Resignation. Why it matters: How companies answer questions about vaccines and return-to-work policies has wide ranging impacts — on the health of their employees, on where people live, and on the strategic direction of their businesses. (Read Full Article)

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