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Brazil Confirms Death of Volunteer in COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

October 22, 2020

(Medscape) – The Brazilian National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) announced today that it is investigating data received on the death of a volunteer in a clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. In an email sent to Medscape Medical News, the agency states that it was formally informed of the death on October 19. It has already received data regarding the investigation of the case, which is now being conducted by the Brazilian International Security Assessment Committee.

First Vaccine May Stymie Hunt for Better Ones

October 22, 2020

(Science) – Success in the push to find a COVID-19 vaccine at record-breaking speed could hand the world a new problem. The first vaccine to cross the finish line might be only marginally effective, yet ethicists warn it could disrupt ongoing studies of good—or even great—candidates in the wings. In all likelihood, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or other regulators will issue the first approval or emergency use authorization (EUA) for one COVID-19 vaccine while clinical trials for many other candidates are still underway or in the planning. At that point, ongoing studies of any candidate—including that first one—arguably could become ethically bound to offer the vaccine with proven efficacy to everyone in a placebo group.

At 12, She’s a Covid ‘Long Hauler’

October 22, 2020

(New York Times) – More than seven months into the coronavirus pandemic, it has become increasingly apparent that many patients with both severe and mild illness do not fully recover. Weeks and months after exposure, these Covid “long-haulers,” as they have been called, continue experiencing a range of symptoms, including exhaustion, dizziness, shortness of breath and cognitive impairments. Children are generally at significantly less risk than older people for serious complications and death from Covid-19, but the long-term impacts of infection on them, if any, have been especially unclear.

Some California Hospitals Refused Covid-19 Transfers for Financial Reasons, State Emails Show

October 21, 2020

(The Wall Street Journal) – Several large Southern California hospital systems improperly refused or delayed accepting Covid-19 patients based on their insurance status, according to internal emails among local and state government, hospital and emergency-response officials, leaving severely ill patients waiting for care and adding strain on hospitals overrun by the pandemic. Disaster-response experts said the refusals and delays exposed ways that some hospitals have put finances ahead of pandemic relief. Some instances might have violated a federal law that protects access to emergency care, while in other instances the actions ran counter to medical ethics, the experts said.

Conservatives Confront Moral Dilemma of Vaccines and Treatments Derived from Fetal Tissue Cells

October 21, 2020

(ABC News) – The race to develop vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 has newly highlighted a longstanding dilemma for religious conservatives: much of the cutting-edge research relies on the use of material derived from human fetal tissue — something they have spent years fighting against.

Are the Risks of Reopening Schools Exaggerated?

October 21, 2020

(NPR) – Despite widespread concerns, two new international studies show no consistent relationship between in-person K-12 schooling and the spread of the coronavirus. And a third study from the United States shows no elevated risk to childcare workers who stayed on the job. Combined with anecdotal reports from a number of U.S. states where schools are open, as well as a crowdsourced dashboard of around 2,000 U.S. schools, some medical experts are saying it’s time to shift the discussion from the risks of opening K-12 schools to the risks of keeping them closed.

OxyContin Maker to Plead Guilty to Federal Criminal Charges, Pay $8 Billion, And Will Close the Company

October 21, 2020

(CNN) – Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has agreed to plead guilty to three federal criminal charges for its role in creating the nation’s opioid crisis and will pay more than $8 billion and close down the company. The money will go to opioid treatment and abatement programs. The privately held company has agreed to pay a $3.5 billion fine as well as forfeit an additional $2 billion in past profits, in addition to the $2.8 billion it agreed to pay in civil liability.

Why Big Pharma Has Abandoned Antibiotics

October 21, 2020

(Nature) – Despite the clear need for more antimicrobial agents, such drugs have not been forthcoming. Fewer new antibiotics are reaching the market; the last entirely original class of antibiotic was discovered in the late 1980s. One reason is that discovering and bringing antibiotics to market is often not profitable for pharmaceutical companies.

The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Caused Nearly 300,000 More Deaths Than Expected in a Typical Year

October 21, 2020

(Washington Post) – The coronavirus pandemic has left about 299,000 more people dead in the United States than would be expected in a typical year, two-thirds of them from covid-19 and the rest from other causes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday. The CDC said the novel coronavirus, which causes covid-19, has taken a disproportionate toll on Latinos and Blacks, as previous analyses have noted. But the CDC also found, surprisingly, that it has struck 25- to 44-year-olds very hard: Their “excess death” rate is up 26.5?percent over previous years, the largest change for any age group.

Doctors: Lonely and Burned Out in COVID-19. How Are They Coping?

October 21, 2020

(Medscape) – “We know that stress, which was already significant in physicians, has increased dramatically for many physicians during the pandemic. That’s understandable, given the circumstances they’ve been working under,” said Christine A. Sinsky, MD, vice president of professional satisfaction at the American Medical Association. Physicians are stressed about potentially contracting the virus or infecting family members; being overworked and fatigued; witnessing wrenching scenes of patients dying alone; grieving the loss of patients, colleagues, or family members; and sometimes lacking adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), she said.

Prepping for COVID-Flu Triage as Flu Season Begins

October 21, 2020

(Medscape) – The set-up for primary care physicians this winter is looking worrisome. “The worst case is that you have high co-circulation of both SARS-CoV-2 and the flu, and you’re using a lot of the same reagents and supplies for both of those pathogens and you run into supply chain issues or capacity issues at individual laboratories because of testing volume,” Kelly Wroblewski, director of infectious diseases at the Association of Public Health Laboratories, told Medscape Medical News.

Exclusive: AstraZeneca U.S. COVID-19 Vaccine Trial May Resume as Soon as This Week–Sources

October 20, 2020

(Reuters) – AstraZeneca Plc’s AZN.L COVID-19 vaccine trial in the United States is expected to resume as early as this week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration completed its review of a serious illness, four sources told Reuters. AstraZeneca’s large, late-stage U.S. trial has been on hold since Sept. 6, after a participant in the company’s UK trial fell ill with what was suspected to be a rare spinal inflammatory disorder called transverse myelitis.

Remember Ebola? Well, Now There’s a Drug for That

October 20, 2020

(NPR) – This month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted formal approval to an antibody cocktail from the pharmaceutical company Regeneron that’s been shown to dramatically reduce an Ebola patient’s chances of dying. The treatment, which has been known as REGN-EB3, is now being marketed under the brand name Inmazeb. (Regeneron is also making another antibody cocktail to treat COVID-19. 

U.K. to Infect Healthy Volunteers in Covid-19 Vaccine Research Trial

October 20, 2020

(STAT News) – U.K. researchers are preparing to infect healthy young volunteers with the virus that causes Covid-19, becoming the first to announce plans to use the controversial technique to study the disease and potentially speed up development of a vaccine that could help end the pandemic. This type of research, known as a human challenge study, is used infrequently because some consider the risk involved in infecting otherwise healthy individuals to be unethical.

‘At a Breaking Point’: New Surge of Covid-19 Cases Has States, Hospitals Scrambling, Yet Again

October 20, 2020

(STAT News) – As hospitalizations for Covid-19 inch up around the country, some states are readying plans for field hospitals. Communities are delaying reopening plans and even imposing new measures, though some governors remain opposed to additional restrictions. Deaths — currently standing about 220,000 — have not surged again yet, but that might just be a matter of time.

Netherlands to Allow for Physician-Assisted Death of ‘Incurably Ill’ Children

October 19, 2020

(The Hill) – Dutch officials have announced plans to allow doctors to end the lives of terminally ill kids under the age of 13, according to multiple reports. The Netherlands currently permits doctors to facilitate the deaths of children who are over 12 years old and and children under 1 year old. Dutch health minister Hugo de Jonge proposed expanding the country’s law to include children between the ages of 1 and 12 who are dying in a Tuesday letter to parliament, The New York Times reported.

As the Coronavirus Surges, a New Culprit Emerges: Pandemic Fatigue

October 19, 2020

(New York Times) – The virus has taken different paths through these countries as leaders have tried to tamp down the spread with a range of restrictions. Shared, though, is a public weariness and a growing tendency to risk the dangers of the coronavirus, out of desire or necessity: With no end in sight, many people are flocking to bars, family parties, bowling alleys and sporting events much as they did before the virus hit, and others must return to school or work as communities seek to resuscitate economies. And in sharp contrast to the spring, the rituals of hope and unity that helped people endure the first surge of the virus have given way to exhaustion and frustration.

A New Study Shows Malaria’s Often Neglected Toll on a Vulnerable Population: Pregnant Women

October 19, 2020

(Vox) – Malaria kills hundreds of thousands of people every year, especially young children. It’s also exceptionally dangerous to another at-risk group: pregnant women. Researchers have estimated that 10 to 20 percent of maternal mortality in countries where malaria is endemic is malaria-related. That’s almost 30,000 women every year. Pregnancy loss, and long-term disability caused by exposure to malaria in utero, are even more common. And many drugs that are used to save people dying of malaria are not safe to use during pregnancy, or are not widely used even though they are safe.

UNICEF to Stockpile Over Half a Billion Syringes for Future COVID-19 Vaccine

October 19, 2020

(NPR) – UNICEF, the largest single buyer of vaccines in the world, wants to hit the ground running as soon as a COVID-19 vaccine is ready. The United Nations agency said Monday it plans to stockpile 520 million syringes by the end of 2020. It also will map out global distribution and storage plans for a future COVID-19 vaccine. Purchasing the syringes now will help reduce the pressure on the market, the organization said, and will ensure timely availability once a vaccine is rolled out.

India’s First Saviour Sibling Saves Brother’s Life at Age 1; Netizens Question Ethics

October 19, 2020

(IB Times) – We’ve all heard of how some people are born to do certain things. How about some people being given birth just to do certain things? In what can be termed as a medical milestone for the nation, doctors in Ahmedabad have successfully conducted India’s first ‘saviour sibling’ experiment. One-year-old Kavya Solanki has become India’s first ‘saviour sibling’, by donating her bone marrow to save her brother’s life.

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