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Bioethics news.

Working Around the System: Vaccine Navigators and Vaccine Equity
Mass vaccination reveals barriers to vaccine equity that exist in society. “Vaccine navigators have a role in improving vaccine equity: the challenge of responding to underlying inequalities that create barriers to health and health care.”
Why We Need a Covid-19 Commission
What can we do moving forward address disparities from COVID-19? Possibly, “a Covid Commission can help to untangle the scope and role government-sanctioned misinformation played in the U.S. death toll from the pandemic”
Regulation of Software as a Medical Device: Opportunity for Bioethics
How can bioethics help software in medicine? “Bioethicists can help strengthen ethical, legal, and social analyses that identify the questions to create a good mix of both precautionary and permissive regulation.”
Vulnerable Inmates Left in Prison as Covid Rages
A bioethical approach necessitates justice for all populations, especially those most vulnerable. “Nearly 2,800 inmates and guards have died, making correctional facilities among the most significant battlefronts of the pandemic.”
Give African research participants more say in genomic data, say scientists
Autonomy, a bioethics principle. How does autonomy look in the context of genomic data sharing? “A panel of researchers in Africa says that [little data control] can fuel distrust between researchers and participants, and needs to change.”
Closing in on a complete human genome
What will be the possibilities once we know the full human genome? “Challenging as it has been to build, a single end-to-end genome offers researchers limited value without other genomes from diverse individuals against which to compare it.”
The Dark Side of CRISPR
What are some opinions on the ethics of CRISPR? “Doudna herself recognizes that CRISPR carries with it “great risk….but she warned of the unknown consequences of embryo editing, cautioning researchers to wait to use CRISPR for these ends.”
How a Black bioethicist makes the case for vaccination to people of color
Vaccination is hard. “It’s a debate that gets at fundamental questions about individual liberty, bodily autonomy, and communal obligation.” Check out this interview with Keisha Ray, a bioethicist speaking on the obligations for the COVID vaccine.
A U.S. Vaccine Surge Is Coming, With Millions of Doses Promised
A vaccine surge is coming, but also poses many questions to solve. How can we ensure doses are going to those in need? With growing doses available, many factors need to be considered.
Vaccinating Homeless Patients Against COVID-19: ‘All Bets Are Off’
“People experiencing homelessness are especially vulnerable to disease and often live in close quarters. Reaching them for COVID-19 vaccination is crucial, public health officials say, yet also presents some unique challenges.”
‘I put my life on hold:’ Disability groups plead for vaccine
“Though many people with disabilities are more vulnerable to COVID-19, in some U.S. states they fear being left behind in a massive effort to get limited vaccines into the arms of those who need them most.”
Overloaded schedules and ‘Covid cowbells’: For pharmacists, the Covid-19 vaccine rollout brings exhaustion, but some relief
“Working with limited supplies and imperfect scheduling systems, many pharmacists are drowning under a flood of inquiries. Wait lists, where they exist, are getting longer. And even creative solutions are succumbing to the cold realities of the day.”
Neanderthal-like ‘mini-brains’ created in lab with CRISPR
Are brain-like organoids a future in research? “The findings, published in Science on 11 February, could help scientists to understand the genetic pathways that allowed human brains to evolve.”
The next 20 years of human genomics must be more equitable and more open
What does the future of human genomics and equity look like? “This special issue of Nature examines how far the human genome sequence has taken us, and how far we have to go.”
The World Is Still Battling Polio. What That Warning Means for Covid-19.
“Medical experts hoped 2020 would be the last year that the main form of the virus, which can permanently paralyze or cause death, posed a threat….The coronavirus pandemic put a halt to that progress.”
Why Are So Many Health-Care Workers Resisting the COVID Vaccine?
What drives vaccine hesitancy among healthcare workers? “The hesitancy is less outright rejection than cautious skepticism. It’s driven by suspicions about the evidence supporting the new vaccines and about the motives of those endorsing them.”
The pandemic’s lasting effects on young medical workers
“The coronavirus has led many to reassess the risks and sacrifices that come with the job, and how consequential health care will be…simultaneously, people are recognizing the longstanding weaknesses and inequalities of America’s medical system.”
Efficacy is Relative in a Public Health Crisis: Evaluating the Next Wave of Covid-19 Vaccines
Now, vaccines are being developed, some with lower efficacies than seen prior. How should we consider these new vaccines with the public health crisis? Check out this piece which argues that less efficacious vaccines in rollout can still be essential.
The Ethics of Vaccinating Teachers—and Keeping Schools Closed
“The question then is this: Is it appropriate to continue to keep children out of school until teachers or reticent politicians feel they have a degree of certainty about risk that may not arise for a long time, if ever?” What do we need to consider?
AI could make health care fairer—by helping us believe what patients say
How can AI help clinicians understand patients without exacerbating existing inequality? “The key, says Ziad Obermeyer, an associate professor at UC Berkeley who oversaw the research, is to stop training algorithms to match human expert performance.”
Communities of color falling behind in America’s vaccine effort
“Preventing socioeconomic disparities in the vaccination process was always going to be an uphill battle, but policy changes in response to the sluggish rollout have generally prioritized speed over equity.”
Five Past Vaccine Drives and How They Worked
How can we look to the past to provide insight into our current society? In this piece by Jenny Gross, we take a look at historical mass vaccination campaigns and how past questions can now lead to future answers.
Surprising Surge of Egg Freezing During the Pandemic Raises Ethical Questions
“As clinics grapple with this unexpected surge in egg freezing (OCP), pre-pandemic concerns about a lack of information on risks, benefits, and harms of OCP have persisted and are likely being exacerbated amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Fate of independent medical ethics decisions in court’s hands
How is medical ethics debated in court? “If a Texas court ruling is allowed to stand, the state’s hospitals and doctors will have no room to make end-of-life care decisions based on independent medical ethics or individual conscience.”
‘What If You Just Don’t Tell Anyone?’
Do we have an ethical responsibility to communicate COVID-19 diagnoses for the purpose of collective health security? This recent piece explores why some may feel motivated to keep their own diagnoses a secret and what effect that may have on the pandemic.
‘You Can’t Treat If You Can’t Empathize’: Black Doctors Tackle Vaccine Hesitancy
Vaccine hesitancy has been an important topic for discussion regarding the #COVID19 vaccine. “How can medical and public health leaders work to overcome this hesitancy? To start with, acknowledge the historical reasons for black mistrust of medicine.”
The Bioethics of Built Health Care Spaces
“Yet, design choices in the built health care environment raise substantive bioethical issues that demand the attention of bioethicists and ethical inquiry. It is time for the built environment to be considered alongside other parameters of care.”
AIs that read sentences are now catching coronavirus mutations
How can AI potentially provide insight into how we understand biological systems? What factors do we need to consider for such an integration? Natural-language processing algorithms now may help read new virus mutations, especially helpful with COVID-19 new variants.
Deciding Who Should Be Vaccinated First
A big component of vaccine distribution has been utilizing ethics to determine vaccine prioritization. Issac Chotiner of The New Yorker speaks with immunologist Barry Bloom to discuss what goes into making decisions on vaccine distribution.
For COVID-19 vaccines, some are too rich – and too poor
“The first year of the Covid-19 pandemic revealed that a country’s wealth would not spare it from the virus. Overconfidence, poor planning and ignored warnings felled the world’s richest nations. But now, money is translating into undeniable advantages.”