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Bioethics news.

After Admitting Mistake, AstraZeneca Faces Difficult Questions About Its Vaccine
AstraZeneca recently disclosed a key mistake in their vaccine trials. How will this impact the trust and reliability of their results? What ethics needs to be considered regarding this mistake? Can these results now hold up with further testing?
Beyond burnout: For health care workers, this surge of Covid-19 is bringing burnover
“Clinicians again face work that’s risky, heart-rending, physically exhausting, and demoralizing, all the elements of burnout. They have seen this before and are frustrated it is happening again.” What effects will this have on healthcare workers?
Leading genetics experts call for more racial representation in their industry
“As the Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the racial inequalities in the United States’ health care system, entrepreneurs in genetic research are speaking out about the importance of encouraging community outreach to combat those disparities and increasing diversity inside their own industry.”
The ethical questions that haunt facial-recognition research
Although facial recognition software proves to be useful in certain scenarios, what happens if this technology falls into the wrong hands. Researchers must recognize that unethical facial recognition practice is fundamentally dangerous.
Doctors Are Calling It Quits Under Stress of the Pandemic
“The clinicians also painted a grim picture of their lives, as the pandemic enters a newly robust phase with record case counts in the United States. About half already said their mental exhaustion was at an all-time high. Many worried about keeping their doors open: about 7 percent said they were not sure they could remain open past December...
The story of mRNA: How a once-dismissed idea became a leading technology in the Covid vaccine race
“The liquid that many hope could help end the Covid-19 pandemic is stored in a nondescript metal tank in a manufacturing complex owned by Pfizer, one of the world’s biggest drug companies. There is nothing remarkable about the container, which could fit in a walk-in closet, except that its contents could end up in the world’s first authorized Covid-19...
‘No One Is Listening to Us’
“In the imminent future, patients will start to die because there simply aren’t enough people to care for them. Doctors and nurses will burn out. The most precious resource the U.S. health-care system has in the struggle against COVID-19 isn’t some miracle drug. It’s the expertise of its health-care workers—and they are exhausted.”
Whole-Genome Synthesis Will Transform Cell Engineering
Whole-genome sequencing in synthetic biology is advancing, making the possibilities open in new medicines, treating genetic diseases, and sustainable energy. Scientists must keep in mind the ethics of this technology and how it can be misused.
Ethics of Emergency Use Authorization During the Pandemic
“With the emergency use authorization process in a swirl of controversy, understanding the ethical dimensions of issuing it for a vaccine can provide clarity on the necessity of stringent guidelines from the FDA.”
What Pfizer’s landmark COVID vaccine results mean for the pandemic
Recent news offers compelling evidence that an effective vaccine for #COVID19 is on its way. Although this news provides optimism, many questions are considered. Who gets it first? Could it help quell the pandemic? Questions follow this exciting news.
Covid Infections in Animals Prompt Scientific Concern
What could infections among animals mean for humans, especially in the context of COVID-19? The decision to kill Mink by the Danish government echoes concerns about mutations that occur with coronavirus and its implications for human health. What do we do?
First video game to treat disease gains FDA okay
Digital therapeutics is uncharted waters. In a recent development, “a new product, developed by Akili Interactive Labs, is the first game-based therapeutic to be approved by the FDA for any condition and the first digital therapeutic approved for ADHD.”
After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis, Many Black Women Face Barriers That Delay Their Care
“A recent analysis found that several barriers to health care meant that more Black women delayed initiating treatment after a breast cancer diagnosis…that can have wide-ranging — and devastating — consequences.” Disparities like these need to be solved.
Can lab-grown brains become conscious?
Can clumps of cells and disembodied brains be sentient and how would we know if they are? Brain organoids are widely used in labs that study the brain. Some scientists are raising questions on whether this is creation of consciousness and is also allowed.
A Hacker Is Threatening to Leak Patients’ Therapy Notes
Ransomware attacks surged last month, targeting big businesses and hospitals alike. Data extortion attacks can manifest in many different forms. This article describes an example of a particularly vicious attack that occurred in Finland.
Nurses Are at High Risk for Covid Among Health Workers, C.D.C. Says
Among healthcare workers, nurses have been at significant risk for contracting #COVID19 compared to their counterparts. What types of precautions are being made by institutions to avoid this? Are they doing enough? What more needs to be done?
40 Dead, Now 40 Laid Off: Inside a Nursing Home in Crisis
This nursing home was one of the deadliest places in NYC. Nursing home workers supported residents in hot spots, without proper PPE, and amidst a fiscal crisis. The pandemic has devastated homes and workers. This article peeks into their stories.
Wealthy Funder Pays Reparations for Use of HeLa Cells
“Doctors took cancerous cells from Lacks without her consent, and later created the HeLa cell line, which today supports a multibillion-dollar biotechnology industry.” A recent donation by HHMI is an attempt at reparations for this racial injustice. This donation, the largest received so far, seeks to pay back a fight for recognition of the Lacks family that has been...
Lab tests show risks of using CRISPR gene editing on embryos
“A lab experiment aimed at fixing defective DNA in human embryos shows what can go wrong and why leading scientists say it’s too unsafe. In more than half of the cases, the editing caused unintended changes, such as loss of an entire chromosome.” Evident from the analysis of the CRISPR babies made in the years prior, embryo editing has...
Why Big Pharma Has Abandoned Antibiotics
More and more microbes are becoming resistant to antimicrobial drugs, yet why are fewer antibiotics entering the market? For some, there is a lack of financial incentive to develop antibiotics and firms drop out in pursuit of more profitable drug lines.
For-Profit Nursing Homes’ Pleas For Government Money Brings Scrutiny
Nursing homes have been overwhelmed by the pandemic and residents account for a fair share of cases world. “Recent studies suggest that for-profit ownership may have endangered residents by skimping on care, while funneling cash to owners and investors.”
Covid-19 Vaccine Trials and Incarcerated People–The Ethics of Inclusion
Incarcerated populations are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 due to factors like overcrowding, confined spaces, and much more. It is imperative we consider this for access. Check out this piece in the NEJM about inclusion of these populations.
US regulators seek advice on thorny issues as vaccines near
There are many public fears right now that politics may override science when it comes to distributing early COVID-19 vaccines. Early vaccines may reduce confidence in shots moving forward and many are seeking needed advice for the vaccines.
OxyContin maker to plead guilty to federal criminal charges, pay $8 billion, and will close the company
“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.” What harm has already been done? The opioid crisis has been a big obstacle to tackle in recent years due to those...
Fox, Bosk, and Rothman: An Appreciation of Three Scholars of Medicine
“With all of the tumult surrounding the coronavirus, few people likely noticed that three important figures in bioethics recently died within a month of one another. But us, the deaths of Renée Fox, Charles Bosk, and David Rothman were a major loss.”
Amid the Pandemic and Racial Injustice, Greater Empathy in Medical School
“The issue of physician burnout pervades not just medical training but also the years after…this chronic erosion of empathy has resulted in the attitude that apathy is not just tolerated but, in some cases, even justified.” Here, empathy is crucial.
Can You Handle Herd Immunity? Ask These Philosophers
What needs to be considered as some governments move towards a “herd immunity approach? What does it mean to have “herd immunity”? How would this affect the population and the future of the pandemic? Here, in this Washington Post piece, John Authers discusses the moral decision in immunity. He brings in concepts of utilitarianism and economic status...
Most US home health aides ‘can’t afford not to work’ – even without PPE
Home health aides during COVID-19 help to keep the most vulnerable patients out of the hospital. Yet, this population of workers has been largely overlooked. Health aides struggle to receive PPE and have not been compensated well for their efforts.
Pfizer won’t apply for Covid-19 vaccine authorization before mid-November, CEO confirms
Vaccine development is in contention within the United States, navigating the progress of clinical research and pressures for development from the federal government. Pfizer has announced that the goal is to ask for emergency use in November.
AI Can Help Diagnose Some Illnesses—If Your Country Is Rich
“AI promises to expertly diagnose disease in medical images and scans. However, a close look…suggests these powerful new tools may perpetuate health inequalities.” How can we train algorithms to work for all patients regardless of origin? Many tools are currently trained in richer countries such as the United States, but are expected to recognize patterns in patients all across...