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Mission and Money Clash in Nonprofit Hospitals’ Venture Capital Ambitions

August 24, 2021

(Kaiser Health News) – Eager to find new sources of revenue, hospital systems of all sizes have been experimenting as venture capitalists for health care startups, a role that until recent years only a dozen or so giant hospital systems engaged in. Health system officials assert many of these investments are dually beneficial to their nonprofit missions, providing extra income and better care through new medical devices, software and other innovations, including ones their hospitals use. But the gamble at times has been harder to pull off than expected. Health systems have gotten rattled by long-term investments when their hospitals hit a budgetary bump or underwent a corporate reorganization. Some health system executives have belatedly discovered a project they underwrote was not as distinctive as they had thought. Certain devices or apps sponsored by hospital systems have failed to be embraced by their own clinicians, out of either skepticism or habit. (Read Full Article)

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Mississippi Orders Those with COVID-19 to Isolate or Face Fines, Jail Time

August 24, 2021

(Medscape) – The Mississippi Department of Health issued a COVID-19 isolation order on Friday that requires those who are infected with COVID-19 to self-isolate or face fines and possible jail time. Once people learn they have COVID-19, they must remain at home or isolate at an “appropriate residential location” for 10 days. The order includes those who are fully vaccinated and those who receive a positive test but don’t have any symptoms. (Read Full Article)

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The FDA Really Did Have to Take This Long

August 24, 2021

(The Atlantic) – Some people want the FDA to speed up. Others want it to be more cautious. All of this can be head-spinning for anyone who just wants the agency to do whatever actually works to get us out of this horrendous pandemic. If one thing has defined America’s vaccination rollout, it’s exactly these competing pressures. There’s a fundamental tension between the right to get access to a drug people are desperate for and the right to protection from dangerous failures of quality. The first demands speed; the second requires time. (Read Full Article)

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Unvaccinated 29 Times More Likely to Be Hospitalized with COVID-19, CDC Study Says

August 24, 2021

(Axios) – Infection and hospitalization rates in late July were five and 29 times higher respectively among unvaccinated people in Los Angeles County than the fully vaccinated, according to a new report out Tuesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Why it matters: Hospitals and state health officials have been warning that the spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations mostly comprises of unvaccinated adults. (Read Full Article)

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‘Nursing Is in Crisis’: Staff Shortages Put Patients at Risk

August 23, 2021

(New York Times) – The bottleneck, however, has little to do with a lack of space. Nearly 30 percent of Singing River’s 500 beds are empty. With 169 unfilled nursing positions, administrators must keep the beds empty. Nursing shortages have long vexed hospitals. But in the year and a half since its ferocious debut in the United States, the coronavirus pandemic has stretched the nation’s nurses as never before, testing their skills and stamina as desperately ill patients with a poorly understood malady flooded emergency rooms. They remained steadfast amid a calamitous shortage of personal protective equipment; spurred by a sense of duty, they flocked from across the country to the newest hot zones, sometimes working as volunteers. More than 1,200 of them have died from the virus. (Read Full Article)

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Do Delta ‘Breakthroughs’ Really Mean Vaccine Protection Is Waning, And Are Boosters the Answer?

August 23, 2021

(Science) – As vaccines rolled out early this year, the pandemic coronavirus seemed to almost magically melt away in some countries. But now, as Delta infections surge in highly vaccinated countries that once seemed to have COVID-19 on the run, including Israel and the United Kingdom, many fully vaccinated people are wondering how protected they really are. Although most data still show the vaccines are very effective at preventing severe disease and death, the initial hopes that they could also squelch transmission and completely prevent “breakthrough” infections in vaccinated people have evaporated. What is uncertain is how much the trends reflect a possible decline in vaccine-induced immunity versus the extraordinarily infectious nature of the Delta variant, and whether widespread use of boosters is now warranted. (Read Full Article)

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More Children Are Hospitalized with Covid-19, and Doctors Fear It Will Get Worse

August 23, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – Hospitals in the South and Midwest say they are treating more children with Covid-19 than ever and are preparing for worse surges to come. Cases there have jumped over the past six weeks as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads primarily among unvaccinated people. That is leading to more sick kids in places where community spread of the variant is high, public-health experts say. (Read Full Article)

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Would It Be Fair to Treat Vaccinated Covid Patients First?

August 23, 2021

(Wired) – It’s no accident that people describe something that’s calculated, cold, and unemotional as “clinical.” Taking care of people’s health isn’t emotion-free by any means, but the clinic is where physicians and nurses have to make life-and-death decisions under time pressure—including which patients go first, and what kind of care they get. When resources like, say, ventilators, intensive care beds, oxygen, staff, and time are scarce, that decisionmaking is called triage. And last week, The Dallas Morning News reported that some Texas hospitals were considering a massive change to how they do it. The question in play: Would it make sense to take into account the vaccination status of their Covid patients? With ICUs filling up with severely ill Covid-19 patients and a shortage of beds and nurses, should clinicians (all other things being equal) care for vaccinated people before—or differently than—unvaccinated ones? (Read Full Article)

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India Approves World’s First DNA-Based COVID-19 Vaccine

August 23, 2021

(Axios) – India’s drug regulator on Friday granted emergency approval to the world’s first DNA-based coronavirus vaccine. Driving the news: The three-dose, needle-free vaccine was developed by pharmaceutical company Zydus Cadila. The company added that it is also the first vaccine to be approved in the country for teens between the ages of 12 and 18. (Read Full Article)

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How AI-Powered Tech Landed Man in Jail with Scant Evidence

August 23, 2021

(Associated Press) – Williams’ experience highlights the real-world impacts of society’s growing reliance on algorithms to help make consequential decisions about many aspects of public life. Nowhere is this more apparent than in law enforcement, which has turned to technology companies like gunshot detection firm ShotSpotter to battle crime. ShotSpotter evidence has increasingly been admitted in court cases around the country, now totaling some 200. ShotSpotter’s website says it’s “a leader in precision policing technology solutions” that helps stop gun violence by using “sensors, algorithms and artificial intelligence” to classify 14 million sounds in its proprietary database as gunshots or something else. But an Associated Press investigation, based on a review of thousands of internal documents, emails, presentations and confidential contracts, along with interviews with dozens of public defenders in communities where ShotSpotter has been deployed, has identified a number of serious flaws in using ShotSpotter as evidentiary support for prosecutors. (Read Full Article)

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US Regulators Give Full Approval to Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine

August 23, 2021

(Associated Press) – The U.S. gave full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine Monday, potentially boosting public confidence in the shots and instantly opening the way for more universities, companies and local governments to make vaccinations mandatory. The Pentagon promptly announced it will press ahead with plans to force members of the military to get vaccinated amid the battle against the extra-contagious delta variant. The University of Minnesota likewise said it will require its students get the shot, as did Louisiana’s major public universities, including LSU, though state law there allows broad exemptions. (Read Full Article)

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As Chinese Vaccines Stumble, U.S. Finds New Opening in Asia

August 23, 2021

(New York Times) – The arrival of the Chinese vaccines was supposed to help stop the spread of the coronavirus in Southeast Asia. Instead, countries across the region are quickly turning elsewhere to look for shots. Residents in Thailand vaccinated with one dose of China’s Sinovac are now given the AstraZeneca shot three to four weeks later. In Indonesia, officials are administering the Moderna vaccine as a booster to health care workers who had received two doses of Sinovac. (Read Full Article)

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With No Beds, Hospitals Ship Patients to Far-Off Cities

August 20, 2021

(Associated Press) – Many overwhelmed hospitals, with no beds to offer, are putting critically ill COVID-19 patients on planes, helicopters and ambulances and sending them hundreds of miles to far-flung states for treatment. The surge in the delta variant of the virus, combined with low vaccination rates, has pushed hospitals to the brink in many states and resulted in a desperate scramble to find beds for patients. The issue is that large hospitals in urban areas already were running short of space and staff with non-COVID procedures like cancer biopsies and hip replacements when the summer surge started. That means they have very few free beds to offer to patients from small rural hospitals without ICUs or from medical centers in virus hotspots.  (Read Full Article)

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Tocilizumab Shortage Continues as Pandemic Wears On

August 20, 2021

(Medscape) – With worldwide supplies of tocilizumab dwindling as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, a shortage of the agent will persist “for at least the next several weeks,” according to Genentech, the Roche unit that manufactures tocilizumab under the trade name Actemra IV. The World Health Organization and Unitaid have called on Genentech to guarantee equitable distribution of the biologic agent globally and to ease up on technology transfer restrictions to make the treatment more accessible. (Read Full Article)

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Delta Variant of SARS-CoV-2 ‘Still Transmissible for Doubled Jabbed’

August 20, 2021

(Medscape) – Having two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine remains the most effective way of ensuring protection against the Delta variant first identified in India, preliminary research has found. A preprint study by scientists at the University of Oxford found that both the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine offered good protection against the Delta variant but that effectiveness was reduced compared with the Alpha variant that was first identified in the UK. Immunity following second doses differed significantly between the two vaccines, the scientists said. There was greater early protection seen in those who had received the Pfizer vaccine but a faster decline in effectiveness compared with those who received the AstraZeneca jab. The early results suggested that efficacy of the two vaccines would be similar after 4 to 5 months. (Read Full Article)

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Study: Extreme Heat Is Becoming an Unignorable Global Health Issue

August 20, 2021

(Axios) – More than 356,000 people died from extreme heat-related causes in just nine countries in 2019, a death toll not only preventable but expected to grow as temperatures increase worldwide, a pair of studies published Thursday in The Lancet shows. Why it matters: Though it’s known heat stress can lead to stroke, organ and brain damage, the studies out of the University of Washington found it also causes a slew of specific morbidities including several types of heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. (Read Full Article)

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The Importance of Vaccine Timing

August 20, 2021

(Axios) – More time between COVID vaccine doses may help build more durable immunity, experts say. Why it matters: The three- or four-week interval between the first and second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines was relatively short — and may help explain why the U.S. is now preparing for third doses. (Read Full Article)

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China Passes One of the World’s Strictest Data-Privacy Laws

August 20, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – China has approved a sweeping privacy law that will curb data collection by technology companies, but that policy analysts say is unlikely to limit the state’s widespread use of surveillance. China’s top legislative body, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, passed the Personal Information Protection Law at a meeting in Beijing on Friday, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency. (Read Full Article)

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As Covid-19 Boosters Loom, Pfizer and Moderna Expected to See Billions More in Sales

August 20, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – Vaccine makers Pfizer Inc. PFE +0.87% and Moderna Inc. MRNA +2.38% are on track to notch billions more in sales than previously expected, as new booster-shot strategies and concerns about the Delta variant push demand, and the companies raise prices in the U.S. and elsewhere. The Biden administration on Wednesday urged adult Americans who received two doses of messenger RNA vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna to get a third dose eight months later. (Read Full Article)

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To Be, or Not to Be? More Counseling Needed for Gender Dysphoria

August 20, 2021

(Medscape) – Clinicians should not blindly accept a person’s self-diagnosis as transgender and desire to medically transition without closer inspection; rather, they should make a distinction between ‘acceptance’ and conducting an in-depth, respectful, and collaborative exploration of an individual’s claims about what they believe will best promote their well-being. These are the conclusions of two experts in ethics and clinical psychology in an extended essay published in the Journal of Medical Ethics. (Read Full Article)

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