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Bioethics news.

After the Surge: Prioritizing the Backlog of Delayed Hospital Procedures
The rewards of social distancing are beginning to accrue in former hotspots such as Seattle, the New York metropolitan area, and the San Francisco Bay Area, where the number of new Covid-19 cases requiring hospitalization is declining. Assuming the rewards hold in the face of pressures to reopen the economy, hospitals will now face challenges of reopening their own...
Covid-19 makes us face the hazy line between ‘elective’ and ‘essential’ medicine
My patients needed procedures, but how long could they wait? Four...
“You Can See Your Loved One Now.” Can Visitor Restrictions During Covid Unduly Influence End-of-Life Decisions?
One of the factors considered most important by dying patients and their families is the opportunity to be together.  For many of our hospitalized patients in palliative care, the presence of loved ones at the bedside is such a given that we don’t even address it explicitly in advance care planning discussions. So, it comes as no surprise that Covid-...
He speaks at Black churches about genetics — and has some ideas about how to fix his field’s diversity problem
Over the past few weeks, 23andMe and other genetic testing companies have made headlines for releasing candid statements acknowledging that their field and their products are too white. It’s a problem with which geneticist Tshaka Cunningham is all too familiar.
A Hospital’s Secret Coronavirus Policy Separated Native American Mothers From Their Newborns
Pregnant Native American women were singled out for COVID-19 testing based on their race and ZIP code, clinicians say. While awaiting results, some mothers were separated from their newborns, depriving them of the immediate contact doctors recommend.
Tech Firms Are Spying on You. In a Pandemic, Governments Say That’s OK.
Location-tracking companies were under fire from privacy advocates, but now officials are using them to monitor populations as the economy reopens.
Fired Florida Data Scientist Launches A Coronavirus Dashboard Of Her Own
Rebekah Jones was fired last month from her job at the Florida Department of Health, where she helped create a data portal about the state’s COVID-19 cases. Now, she has created a dashboard of her own.
Why Black doctors like me are leaving faculty positions in academic medical centers
A decade ago, the Department of Health and Human Services made “to achieve health equity, eliminate disparities, and improve the health of all groups” one of its goals for Healthy People 2020. It didn’t come close.
Committing to Fight Racism
Two “seasoned” white bioethicists state how we simply have not been doing enough in our professional capacities to actively denounce or address the persistent problems of structural racism.
Amazon Pauses Police Use of Its Facial Recognition Software
The company said it hoped the moratorium “might give Congress enough time to put in place appropriate rules” for the technology.
23andMe says it’s ‘part of the problem’ on racial inequity. We asked geneticists what the company can do about it
At the consumer genetics giant 23andMe, CEO Anne Wojcicki last week issued a remarkable statement calling her product “euro-centric” and saying her company is “part of the problem.”
Grieving and frustrated: Black scientists call out racism in the wake of police killings
An academic strike is planned for this week, alongside marches and demonstrations worldwide.
Police brutality is our lane too, doctors say
The medical profession must convene minds and resources and develop tangible strategic plans to combat police brutality. Our profession has done this in the past to mitigate the health consequences of tobacco products and gun violence. It’s time to turn the attention to police brutality.
Contact tracing technology must protect people from discrimination as well as disease
The death of George Floyd at the hands of police, and the consequent protests across the country, have lain bare the discriminatory profiling and brutality that many underrepresented groups faced long before Covid-19. It is reasonable to fear that information gathered from disease-tracking technologies could be misused to target and harm the same vulnerable groups.
Hydroxychloroquine Studies Tied to Data Firm Surgisphere Retracted
Three authors involved in Lancet article that drew scrutiny said they couldn’t get full data set behind study; an article in the New England Journal of Medicine was also retracted
‘Which death do they choose?’: Many Black men fear wearing a mask more than the coronavirus
When the CDC issued guidelines in early March asking people to wear masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the question for many Black men was not where to get a mask or which kind. It was: How do I cover my face and not get shot?
Before Deliberately Infecting People With Coronavirus, Be Sure It’s Worth It
Big questions about ‘challenge trials’ to test vaccines might be addressed while ethical and scientific preparation starts.
Pro Sports Can Tackle The Racism That Led To George Floyd’s Death
High-profile professional athletes around the United States are speaking out over the video-recorded death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis. Some coaches are making their voices heard, too.
Bioethicist: ‘Immunity Passports’ Could Do More Harm Than Good
“Immunity passports” have been proposed as one way to reboot economies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. But they “could create a lot more harm than good,” says Natalie Kofler, who teaches bioethics at Harvard Medical School.
Column: Developing a coronavirus vaccine should not be rushed. Here’s why
If anything is known for sure about the scientific battle against the novel coronavirus, it’s that the quest for a vaccine has been unprecedentedly intense, with rapid development and speedy production the paramount goals. But some medical experts are raising a yellow flag.
Taxpayers paid to develop remdesivir but will have no say when Gilead sets the price
Critics say government deserves more credit for tens of millions in public money spent to develop coronavirus treatment.
Covid-19 Underscores Racial Disparity in Advance Directives
Conversations about advance directives are important to ensure dignity in life and in death. In one nationally representative survey, however, older black Americans were half as likely as older whites to have advance directives.
AI systems are worse at diagnosing disease when training data is skewed by sex
The artificial intelligence model showed great promise in predicting which patients treated in U.S. Veterans Affairs hospitals would experience a sudden decline in kidney function. But it also came with a crucial caveat: Women represented only about 6% of the patients whose data were used to train the algorithm, and it performed worse when tested on women.
When a Covid-19 vaccine becomes available, who should get it first?
The development of a vaccine is bound to raise ethical questions like these: Who should get it first? How will we judge claims to it? How will we give priority to different groups or communities?
Covid-19 Crisis Triage—Optimizing Health Outcomes and Disability Rights
Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, Hastings Center president Mildred Solomon and two Hastings Center fellows address concerns that crisis triage protocols aimed at allocating scarce health care resources to save the most lives could be biased against people with disabilities.
5,368 dead and counting: An investigation of state failures as crisis rampaged through N.J. nursing homes
More than four in ten deaths linked to the pandemic were in the state’s long-term care facilities. What went wrong?
I Accept Death. I Hope Doctors and Nurses Will, Too.
Medical workers remain devoted to curing and easing the pain of the desperately ill during the COVID-19 pandemic. But what can be done about their pain?
Ethics questions swirl around historic Parkinson’s experiment
A secretive experiment revealed this week, in which neurosurgeons transplanted brain cells into a patient with Parkinson’s disease, made medical history. It was the first time such “reprogrammed” cells, produced from stem cells that had been created in the lab from the man’s own skin cells, had been used to try to treat the degenerative brain disease. But it was also a...
Apple and Google are building a virus-tracking system. Health officials say it will be practically useless.
The tech giants have refused officials’ pleas to allow the collection...
DHS begins collecting DNA from undocumented immigrants after whistleblower complaints
The Department of Homeland Security is inching toward implementation of a decades-old law directing it to collect DNA from the undocumented immigrants arrested by its officers.