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Big Pharma Faces an Ethical Dilemma: Should They Keep Selling to Russia?

March 18, 2022

(Wired) – In a great corporate exodus, an estimated 400 companies—like Apple, Shell, Starbucks, McDonald’s, and major credit card companies—have severed ties with Russia, suspending or exiting their operations in the country. But one major industry is bucking the trend: Big Pharma. The pharmaceutical industry is in a tricky ethical spot. To withdraw from Russia would not result in citizens simply losing access to frappuccinos or designer goods. It could mean that cancer patients go without chemotherapy or diabetics without insulin. That is a moral line that so far most drug companies have not been willing to breach. (Read More)

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Ivermectin Didn’t Reduce Covid-19 Hospitalizations in Largest Trial to Date

March 18, 2022

(Wall Street Journal) – Researchers testing repurposed drugs against Covid-19 found that ivermectin didn’t reduce hospital admissions, in the largest trial yet of the effect of the antiparasitic on the disease driving the pandemic. Ivermectin has received a lot of attention as a potential treatment for Covid-19 including from celebrities such as podcast host Joe Rogan. Most evidence has shown it to be ineffective against Covid-19 or has relied on data of poor quality, infectious-disease researchers said. Public-health authorities and researchers have for months said the drug hasn’t shown any benefit in treating the disease. Taking large doses of the drug is dangerous, the Food and Drug Administration has said.  (Read More)

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Hong Kong’s COVID Infections Exceed 1 Million Amid Outbreak

March 18, 2022

(Associated Press) – Hong Kong’s cumulative coronavirus infections have exceeded 1 million as the city grapples with a widespread outbreak that has killed more people than the reported COVID-19 deaths in all of mainland China. Health officials reported 20,079 confirmed infections on Friday, taking the total since the start of the pandemic to 1,016,944. Nearly 97% of those came from Hong Kong’s current wave, which began in December. Since Feb. 9, nearly 5,200 people have died from the virus. (Read More)

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Young Ukrainian Cancer Patients Get Medical Help in Poland

March 18, 2022

(Associated Press) – Twenty-two-month-old Yeva Vakulenko had been through four rounds of chemotherapy for leukemia at a hospital in Ukraine, and then suffered a relapse. As she began returning again for more treatment, Russia invaded, disrupting doctors’ efforts to cure her. Air raids forced the toddler to shelter in the basement of the hospital in the western city of Lviv for hours at a time, making her feel even worse. She cried a lot and sought comfort from her grandmother, who is caring for her after her parents were in an accident that left her mother disabled with brain and leg injuries.  So when doctors told Yeva’s grandmother that they could evacuate to Poland, she seized the chance. (Read More)

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‘Finish Them Off’: Aid Workers, Found on Battlefield, Executed by Soldiers

March 18, 2022

(New York Times) – Doctors Without Borders, widely known by its French name, Médecins Sans Frontières, immediately denounced the killings as “brutal murder” but did not identify any culprit. Now, one is coming into view. Investigators, senior aid officials and Ethiopian soldiers interviewed by the Times said the three aid workers were gunned down by retreating Ethiopian government troops on the orders of a commander who was infuriated to find them in an active combat zone. (Read More)

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Covid’s ‘Silver Lining’: Research Breakthroughs for Chronic Disease, Cancer, and the Common Flu

March 17, 2022

(Kaiser Health News) – Building on the success of mRNA vaccines for covid, scientists hope to create mRNA-based vaccines against a host of pathogens, including influenza, Zika, rabies, HIV, and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, which hospitalizes 3 million children under age 5 each year worldwide. Researchers see promise in mRNA to treat cancer, cystic fibrosis, and rare, inherited metabolic disorders, although potential therapies are still many years away. Pfizer and Moderna worked on mRNA vaccines for cancer long before they developed covid shots. Researchers are now running dozens of clinical trials of therapeutic mRNA vaccines for pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, and melanoma, which frequently responds well to immunotherapy. (Read More)

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New Covid Wave in China Hits Sellers of ‘Quarantine Insurance’

March 17, 2022

(Wall Street Journal) – In a country where one person inadvertently crossing paths with a Covid-19 patient can instantly put an entire apartment complex under lockdown for 14 days or more, Chinese insurers last year began offering what they called “quarantine insurance”—get locked down, receive a payout. Now, as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads rapidly across the country, overwhelmed insurers are pulling the plug on the products. On Thursday, China’s Public Mutual Insurance Corp. will become the latest insurer to close itself off to new premium holders, following in the footsteps of ZhongAn Online Property & Casualty Insurance Co., which stopped selling quarantine insurance on Monday. (Read More)

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The Tragedy of Afghanistan’s Malnourished Children

March 17, 2022

(BBC) – Every few seconds a sick child is brought in to the emergency room of the main hospital in Lashkar Gah in a race against time to save the youngest casualties of Afghanistan’s hunger crisis. Amidst the heart-rending sound of dozens of hungry babies crying, and desperate pleas for help from their mothers, nurses scramble to prioritise children who need urgent care. There are many such babies. (Read More)

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South Korea’s Omicron Deaths Surge Amid Faltering Response

March 17, 2022

(ABC News) – Officials in South Korea tried to calm public fears amid concerns about a faltering pandemic response as daily cases and deaths reached record highs Thursday. The 429 deaths reported in the latest 24 hours were nearly 140 more than the previous one-day record set on Tuesday. Fatalities may further rise in coming weeks considering the intervals between infections, hospitalizations and deaths. (Read More)

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What Happened to Hong Kong?

March 17, 2022

(The Atlantic) – Now medical facilities are overwhelmed with sick patients, and because morgues have struggled to keep pace, body bags are piled up in hospitals alongside patients still receiving treatment. Coffins are being shipped in to meet the demand. Construction workers are racing to build isolation facilities, including one that looks like a wartime field hospital on the border with the mainland. Some 300,000 people are in isolation or under home quarantine. After recording only 213 deaths and about 13,000 cases of COVID-19 from January 2020 to early 2022, the city is swamped by the current Omicron wave, which began at the start of the year and has led to more than 960,000 cases and more than 4,600 deaths. Hong Kong was lauded for controlling the coronavirus’s spread with its “zero-COVID strategy.” It has ample vaccine doses. It is wealthy enough to support its poorest people if it chooses to. It has effectively shut down swaths of its economy, including its lucrative tourism sector, to battle the virus. And yet this month, it recorded one of the highest COVID death rates in the world. What just happened? (Read More)

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U.S. Covid-19 Hospital Admissions Near a Low, But New Risks Loom

March 17, 2022

(Wall Street Journal) – A tangle of encouraging trends in the U.S. and concerning signs abroad are raising questions about the Covid-19 pandemic’s trajectory. Counts of newly admitted Covid-19 patients in U.S. hospitals are nearing their lowest recorded level after any prior surge. The seven-day average for patients with confirmed and suspected Covid-19 cases admitted to hospitals slid to 6,406 by Wednesday, down from a record high that topped 28,000 in January, a Wall Street Journal analysis of federal data shows. (Read More)

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The COVID Booster Debate Is Back

March 17, 2022

(Axios) – Pfizer says that at least some Americans will soon need a fourth shot of its coronavirus vaccine. The problem is that, if true, that may raise questions about the utility of the vaccine in the long run. The catch: Regulators want to see more data before they’re convinced another booster is necessary. If the data does show the third shot’s ability to ward off severe disease drops after a few months, that may suggest Americans need a better booster. (Read More)

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Doctor who Treats Transgender Children Takes UT Southwestern to Court Over Change in Care

March 17, 2022

(Dallas Morning News) – The doctor who led UT Southwestern’s program for transgender youth is taking her employer to court to find out why the hospital abruptly cut care for new patients last year. In a petition filed in Dallas County court on Wednesday, Dr. Ximena Lopez said UT Southwestern’s decision to halt certain gender-affirming health care provided by the Genecis program violates the university’s nondiscrimination policy and keeps her from treating patients according to her independent medical judgment. (Read More)

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