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Updated: 4 hours 23 min ago

Elder Abuse

August 25, 2020

(Harper’s Magazine) – In some states, the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths were in homes: 64 percent in Massachusetts, 68 percent in Pennsylvania, 77 percent in Minnesota. In New Jersey, one in every ten people housed in nursing homes or assisted-living centers died. This was a helpless population, helpless because so often confined in a state of neglect and squalor. But despite or perhaps because of their conditions, they were worth a lot of money. In effect, they were being harvested for profit.

Colleges Weigh Transparency Versus Privacy When It Comes to Covid-19 Data

August 25, 2020

(Wall Street Journal) – The issue of how to report outbreaks exploded at UNC last week, with the four clusters contributing to 130 student Covid-19 cases in its then-weekly update of test results. The total spurred pushback from students and led the administration to shutter dorms, move all undergraduate classes online, and expand its data-sharing policies to daily reports and cluster-specific case counts.

Some People Can Get the Pandemic Virus Twice, a Study Suggests. That Is No Reason to Panic

August 25, 2020

(Science) – Scientists have found the first solid evidence that people can be reinfected with the virus that causes COVID-19. A new study shows a 33-year-old man who was treated at the hospital for a mild case in March harbored the virus again when he was tested at the Hong Kong airport after returning from Europe on 15 August, less than 5 months later. He had no symptoms this time. Researchers had sequenced the virus, SARS-CoV-2, from the first infection; they did so again after the patient’s second diagnosis and found numerous differences between the two, bolstering the case that the patient had been infected a second time.

Four Scenarios on How We Might Develop Immunity to Covid-19

August 25, 2020

(STAT News) – As the world wearies of trying to suppress the SARS-CoV-2 virus, many of us are wondering what the future will look like as we try to learn to live with it. Will it always have the capacity to make us so sick? Will our immune systems learn — and remember — how to cope with the new threat? Will vaccines be protective and long-lasting?

New US Virus Cases Fall as Masks Gain Favor But Testing Lags

August 25, 2020

(Associated Press) – The number of Americans newly diagnosed with the coronavirus is falling — a development experts say most likely reflects more mask-wearing but also insufficient testing — even as the disease continues to claim nearly 1,000 lives in the U.S. each day. About 43,000 new cases are being reported daily across the country, down 21% from early August, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. While the U.S., India and Brazil still have the highest numbers of new cases in the world, the downward trend is encouraging.

Eradication of Polio in Africa Is ‘Great Day’ WHO Director General Says

August 25, 2020

(CNN) – Polio has been declared eradicated from Africa, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. “Today we come together to rejoice over a historic public health success, the certification of wild poliovirus eradication in the African region,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said during a livestreamed event. “The end of wild polio in Africa is a great day,” said Tedros, who is also the chair of the polio oversight board. “Your success is the success of the world. None of us could have done this alone.”

The Uneven Scramble for Coronavirus Vaccines–by the Numbers

August 24, 2020

(Nature) – Wealthy countries have struck deals to buy more than two billion doses of coronavirus vaccine in a scramble that could leave limited supplies in the coming year. Meanwhile, an international effort to acquire vaccines for low- and middle-income countries is struggling to gain traction.

Hong Kong Researchers Report First Documented Coronavirus Re-Infection

August 24, 2020

(Reuters) – A Hong Kong man who recovered from COVID-19 was infected again four-and-a-half months later in the first documented instance of human re-infection, researchers at the University of Hong Kong said on Monday. The findings indicate the disease, which has killed more than 800,000 people worldwide, may continue to spread amongst the global population despite herd immunity, they said.

Russia Vaccine Roll-Out Plan Prompts Virus Mutation Worries

August 21, 2020

(Reuters) – Russia’s plan to roll-out its “Sputnik-V” COVID-19 vaccine even before full trials show how well it works is prompting concern among virus experts, who warn a partially effective shot may encourage the novel coronavirus to mutate. Viruses, including the pandemic SARS-CoV-2, are known for their ability to mutate all the time – and often this has little or no impact on the risk posed to people.

Utah Sets Pandemic Safeguards for People with Disabilities

August 20, 2020

(ABC News) – Utah became the fifth state Thursday to overhaul crisis guidelines that could have deprived people with disabilities of doctors’ care if hospitals become overwhelmed during the coronavirus pandemic. The changes approved by federal officials settle a complaint from disability advocates and set a new standard for other states, said Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

An ‘Unprecedented’ Effort to Stop the Coronavirus in Nursing Homes

August 20, 2020

(New York Times) – Although nursing home residents make up just 1.2 percent of the United States population, they account for about 40 percent of Covid-19 deaths. But this time, the nursing home was not defenseless. Heartland was the first facility to participate in a large clinical trial of a drug that might protect residents from the infection in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Facing High Costs at Home, Americans Seek Fertility Help Abroad

August 20, 2020

(Undark Magazine) – As fertility rates fall around the world, including in the U.S., the Murillos and many other hopeful parents are part of a different trend: the fast-growing and lucrative globalization of fertility treatments, also known as “reproductive travel” or “fertility tourism.” Although a handful of states require insurance companies to cover such treatments, most don’t. That means patients still need to pay out of pocket for common services like in vitro fertilization (IVF) — where a woman’s eggs are fertilized by a man’s sperm outside of her body and then implanted as an embryo — which can run into tens of thousands of dollars. Estimates vary on just how many Americans respond to that high cost by looking abroad.

Should We Infect People with Covid-19 for Vaccine Research?

August 20, 2020

(BBC Focus) – The race for a COVID-19 vaccine is hotting up. There are currently over 150 candidate vaccines in development around the world, with around 30 being tested on humans. But for some scientists, the progress isn’t fast enough. There are growing calls for so-called ‘human challenge studies’, which would deliberately infect volunteers with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, with the aim of speeding up vaccine development by, according to one paper, as much as several months, potentially saving thousands of lives. This would be a big ethical leap from current vaccine trials.

Nepal Health Facility Births Decline by Half During Covid-19 Lockdown: Study

August 20, 2020

(Human Rights Watch) – In Nepal, decades of progress in maternal and newborn health is now in jeopardy, according to new research published in the Lancet. The study, which looked at nine hospitals, found the number of births in these facilities fell by more than half during Nepal’s four-month lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19. The rate of neonatal deaths more than tripled, from 13 to 40 per 1,000 live births. Still births and pre-term births also increased. Disadvantaged ethnic groups, such as Madhesis, suffered greater declines in access to clinical services.

How Feds Decide on Remdesivir Shipments to States Remains Mysterious

August 19, 2020

(NPR) – One of the few treatment options for patients seriously ill with COVID-19 is the antiviral drug remdesivir. Authorized by the Food and Drug Administration in May for emergency use in the pandemic, remdesivir is in short supply. The federal government has taken on the responsibility for deciding where vials of the medicine should go. Between July 6 and July 19, the federal Department of Health and Human Services allocated shipments of remdesivir to 31 states.

The Antibiotic Paradox: Why Companies Can’t Afford to Create Life-Saving Drugs

August 19, 2020

(Nature) – In a bitter paradox, antibiotics fuelled the growth of the twentieth century’s most profitable pharmaceutical companies, and are one of society’s most desperately needed classes of drug. Yet the market for them is broken. For almost two decades, the large corporations that once dominated antibiotic discovery have been fleeing the business, saying that the prices they can charge for these life-saving medicines are too low to support the cost of developing them. Most of the companies now working on antibiotics are small biotechnology firms, many of them running on credit, and many are failing.

Long-Haulers Are Redefining COVID-19

August 19, 2020

(The Atlantic) – Lauren Nichols has been sick with COVID-19 since March 10, shortly before Tom Hanks announced his diagnosis and the NBA temporarily canceled its season. She has lived through one month of hand tremors, three of fever, and four of night sweats. When we spoke on day 150, she was on her fifth month of gastrointestinal problems and severe morning nausea. She still has extreme fatigue, bulging veins, excessive bruising, an erratic heartbeat, short-term memory loss, gynecological problems, sensitivity to light and sounds, and brain fog. Even writing an email can be hard, she told me, “because the words I think I’m writing are not the words coming out.” She wakes up gasping for air twice a month. It still hurts to inhale.

Will Covid-19 Vaccines Be Safe for Children and Pregnant Women? The Data, So Far, Are Lacking

August 19, 2020

(STAT News) – As potential Covid-19 vaccines speed their way through development, manufacturers and U.S. regulators have largely delayed testing in children and women who are pregnant, raising the possibility that experts will lack critical safety and efficacy data in those populations when there’s a pressing need to inoculate them.

COVID-19 Vaccine Won’t Be Mandatory in US, Says Fauci

August 19, 2020

(Medical Xpress) – Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious diseases official, said Wednesday the government wouldn’t make any future COVID-19 vaccine obligatory for the general public—though local jurisdictions could make it mandatory for some groups, like children. 

CDC Study Finds Hispanics Hit Disproportionately Hard by Workplace Outbreaks

August 18, 2020

(NPR) – A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published on Monday is the latest to confirm that the coronavirus disproportionately impacts communities of color in the U.S. The study looked at COVID-19 cases associated with workplace outbreaks in certain industries in Utah between March and June. It found that Hispanic and nonwhite workers made up 73% of those cases — despite representing just 24% of the workforce in sectors where outbreaks occurred.