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Scandal Over COVID Vaccine Trail at Peruvian Universities Prompts Outrage

March 29, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – A clinical trial of COVID-19 vaccines in Peru has sparked outrage and triggered a series of high-profile resignations at universities and in government. Politicians, researchers and some of their family members who were not enrolled as trial participants nevertheless received vaccines — breaching standard protocols. Investigations are ongoing as the country struggles to inoculate its general population with limited doses.

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Support for Covid-19 Vaccine Passports Grows, with European, Chinese Backing

March 29, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – Many international travelers will likely need to prove they are vaccinated or free of Covid-19 if they plan trips later this year, after the European Union and China both said they would move ahead with plans for “vaccine passports.” China is working toward launching certificates that will declare a person’s vaccination status or recent test results, according to its foreign ministry. Similarly, the European Commission plans this month to present proposals for a “digital green pass” for EU citizens, which will specify if someone has been vaccinated, and if not, carry details of their test results. 

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Pfizer, Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines Highly Effective After First Shot in Real-World Use,–U.S. Study

March 29, 2021

(Reuters) – COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer Inc with BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc reduced risk of infection by 80% two weeks or more after the first of two shots, according to data from a real-world U.S. study released on Monday. The risk of infection fell 90% by two weeks after the second shot, the study of nearly 4,000 U.S. healthcare personnel and first responders found. The results validate earlier studies that had indicated the vaccines begin to work soon after a first dose, and confirm that they also prevent asymptomatic infections.

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Covid-19 Shots for Children Hold Key to Herd Immunity

March 29, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – Countries are racing to immunize adults against Covid-19 and move toward a more normal future. To achieve the vaccination rates that health authorities are aiming for, the shots must eventually reach the arms of children and teenagers, too. Children aren’t going to be vaccinated for several months at least, however, because drugmakers are still testing shots in younger ages. That means health authorities can’t be confident of securing community protection against the virus, known as herd immunity, until later this year at the earliest, because children under 18 make up a significant proportion of many countries’ populations.

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‘Strong Immune Response’ from One Dose of Pfizer Vaccine: Study

March 29, 2021

(Medscape) – People previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 showed higher antibody and T-cell responses after one dose of Pfizer’s BNT162b2 messenger (mRNA) vaccine compared with people who had a first dose without previously contracting the virus, according to research led by the universities of Sheffield and Oxford. The early findings from the Protective Immunity from T cells to COVID-19 in Health workers study (PITCH) said the findings suggested that one dose of the vaccine protected against severe disease. That supported the UK’s policy of prioritising first doses to boost the speed of the vaccine rollout, researchers said.

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Even When Covid-19 Vaccines Arrive, EU Struggles to Get Shots in Arms

March 26, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – Europe is experiencing a flurry of coronavirus infections, but authorities are moving slowly to ramp up vaccination programs that have been hobbled by shortages and red tape. The European Union has injected 13.7 vaccine doses per 100 inhabitants, versus 39.4 in the U.S. and 46.7 in the U.K., according to Our World in Data. At the current pace, the EU won’t have vaccinated the majority of adults until well after the summer.

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‘How Did You Qualify?’ For the Young and Vaccinated, Rude Questions and Raised Eyebrows

March 26, 2021

(New York Times) – As public health officials push to get more at-risk people vaccinated, many of the newly qualified are discovering an unwelcome side effect of vaccination: Intrusive questions about their personal health. The majority of states now have expanded vaccine eligibility to include people with underlying health conditions that put them at risk for complications from Covid-19, such as high blood pressure, a compromised immune system or obesity.

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What It Will Take to Vaccinate the World Against COVID-19

March 26, 2021

(Nature) – Within just a few months, pharmaceutical firms have produced hundreds of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine. But the world needs billions — and as fast as possible. Companies say they could make enough vaccines to immunize most of the world’s population by the end of 2021. But this doesn’t take into account political delays in distribution, such as countries imposing export controls — or that the overwhelming majority of doses are going to wealthier countries. This situation is fuelling a campaign to temporarily waive intellectual-property rights so that manufacturers in poorer countries can make the vaccines more quickly themselves.

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Scientists Plan to Track Possible Virus Spread in Vaccinated College Students.

March 26, 2021

(New York Times) – Can people immunized against the coronavirus still spread it to others? A new study will attempt to answer the question by tracking infections in vaccinated college students and their close contacts, researchers announced on Friday. The results are likely to be of intense interest, because they may help determine how careful vaccinated people need to be — whether they can throw away their masks, for example, or must continue to wear them to protect unvaccinated people.

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Serbia Vaccinates Migrants Amid Surge in COVID-19 Cases

March 26, 2021

(ABC News) – Bashir Ahmad Shirzay lived through wars in Afghanistan, survived a harrowing journey to reach Europe and has no intention of taking a gamble with the coronavirus. He was among the first to roll up his sleeve for a COVID-19 shot on Friday as Serbia became the first European country to vaccinate people living in its refugee camps and asylum centers, according to United Nations officials.

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Tiny Minority of Vaccinated Minnesotans Test Positive for COVID-19

March 26, 2021

(Star Tribune) – Minnesota has identified 89 “breakthrough” infections of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in people who have been fully vaccinated. None are among Minnesota’s 6,798 COVID-19 deaths, including nine deaths reported Wednesday, and doctors said even those who were hospitalized after being vaccinated had milder illness.

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Women in 40s, 50s Who Survive COVID More Likely to Suffer Persistent Problems: UK Studies

March 26, 2021

(Medscape) – Women in their 40s and 50s appear more at risk of long-term problems following discharge from hospital after COVID-19, with many suffering months of persistent symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness and brain fog, two UK studies found on Wednesday. One study found that five months after leaving hospital, COVID-19 patients who were also middle-aged, white, female, and had other health problems such as diabetes, lung or heart disease, tended to be more likely to report long-COVID symptoms.

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EMA to Convene ‘Ad Hoc Expert Group’ to Discuss AZ COVID-19 Shot

March 26, 2021

(Medscape) – The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has announced that it will convene an ad hoc expert group to provide “additional input” into the assessment of thromboembolic events occurring in European Union (EU) residents who have received AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. The group will meet this coming Monday, EMA noted in an update today. Several EU countries stopped using the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in mid-March following reports of blood clots in vaccinated individuals.

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Covid Passports: What Are Different Countries Planning?

March 25, 2021

(BBC) – The need to get a Covid vaccine certificate before you travel across Europe this summer is closer to becoming reality. EU leaders are discussing the introduction of a “Digital Green Certificate” in time for Europe’s summer, but some countries, inside and outside the EU, have already announced plans for so-called “vaccine passports”.

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A Boy, His Brain, and a Decades-Long Medical Controversy

March 25, 2021

(Wired) – The chiropractor arranged for a doctor he worked with to write a prescription for azithromycin, an antibiotic used to treat strep. Rita had her doubts. She’d told other doctors about the skin irritation; why hadn’t any of them diagnosed Timothy with PANDAS? But the risks to her son were low, and she figured they might as well try. Two days later, the boy was starting to become himself again. The bad men had disappeared. He wanted to go out for pizza and read his favorite sci-fi books. For the first time in almost five months, Rita and John recognized their son. The relief was immense, but it was tinged with uncertainty: If this disease was “made-up,” why was Timothy getting better? Would the improvement in his condition last? And the biggest question, the one that would dog the family well into Timothy’s adolescence: When doctors disagree on the cause of an illness, where does that leave the patient?

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Pfizer and BioNTech to Begin Testing Covid-19 Vaccine in Children

March 25, 2021

(STAT News) – Pfizer and BioNTech said Thursday they are beginning a study aimed at showing their Covid-19 vaccine can be used in children as young as 6 months. The study follows the launch of a separate and ongoing trial in children ages 12 to 15, which was fully enrolled in January. That study could lead to results by the end of the first half of the year, depending on the data, and then to an emergency use authorization. That will depend on the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The vaccine already has an EUA for people 16 and older.

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UN-Backed Vaccine Delivery Program Warns of Supply Delays

March 25, 2021

(Associated Press) – The U.N.-backed program to ship COVID-19 vaccines worldwide has announced supply delays involving a key Indian manufacturer, a major setback for the ambitious rollout aimed at helping low- and middle-income countries vaccinate their populations and fight the pandemic. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and its partners said Thursday that the Serum Institute of India, a pivotal vaccine maker behind the COVAX program, will face increasing domestic demands as coronavirus infections surge.

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India Cuts Back on Vaccine Exports as Infections Surge at Home

March 25, 2021

(New York Times) – With its own battle against the coronavirus taking a sharp turn for the worse, India has severely curtailed exports of Covid-19 vaccines, triggering setbacks for vaccination drives in many other countries. The government of India is now holding back nearly all of the 2.4 million doses that the Serum Institute of India, the private company that is one of the world’s largest producers of the AstraZeneca vaccine, makes each day. India is desperate for all the doses it can get. Infections are soaring, topping 50,000 per day, more than double the number less than two weeks ago.

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Dramatic Drop in COVID-19 Cases Seen Among Vaccinated Healthcare Workers

March 25, 2021

(Medscape) – Data from healthcare workers at medical centers in the United States and Israel are confirming the effectiveness of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines against COVID-19. The reports all appear as letters in The New England Journal of Medicine. Pooled employee data from the University of California, San Diego and the University of California Los Angeles health systems shows that during a system of aggressive testing, conducted during a surge of COVID-19 cases in the general population, the rate of new infections among the staff dropped dramatically, beginning the second week after the first dose was given.

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AstraZeneca Releases Updated Covid-19 Vaccine Data Showing 76% Efficacy

March 25, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – AstraZeneca AZN +1.61% PLC released more pivotal-trial data for its Covid-19 vaccine, saying the shot was 76% effective at preventing Covid-19 with symptoms in a fuller analysis of study results than the company had earlier provided. AstraZeneca said its latest figure on the vaccine’s efficacy was based on an analysis of 190 cases of symptomatic Covid-19 in the trial, 49 more cases than the company had analyzed earlier.

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