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Bioethics news.

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.”
The growth of “pharmacy deserts”
With efficacious medications available, ethics considers who has access to these drugs and who is at risk of losing them. Under COVID-19, the pandemic has accelerated the growth of many health disparities in the United States. Recently, there has been an increase in “pharmacy deserts”, where people struggle to fill medications locally because the drugs are no longer covered...
Could new COVID variants undermine vaccines? Labs scramble to find out
The new COVID-19 variants that have popped up in the United Kingdom and South Africa are the new obstacles to tackle in the pandemic. Will current vaccines be able to measure up against new strains? Scientists are seeking an answer.
The Next Phase of Vaccination Will Be Even Harder
Why has vaccine distribution fallen into disarray across the United States? Lack of funding and coordination between state and local governments has left citizens confused about their vaccination opportunities. What will come in year 2 of COVID-19?
The Vaccine Is Not Coming Soon Enough for Nursing Homes
Recent data has shown COVID-19 numbers are trending in the wrong directions for our populations at risk. With the vaccine soon to be rolled out, what needs to be considered in distribution as we look at the effects of COVID-19 on elderly populations?
How Nanotechnology Helps mRNA Covid-19 Vaccines Work
With news of the recent COVID19 vaccines in development, we look to some of the technologies that have enable us to crate innovative drugs and vaccines. Nanotechnology allows important necessary particles get where they need to go.
‘Nobody Sees Us’: Testing-Lab Workers Strain Under Demand
Testing is essential to our fight against #COVID-19. Have you thought about those that give tests to millions of Americans daily? Testing teams are grappling with burnout as these surges approach. How can we consider this population in ethics?
Pfizer says placebo patients will eventually get its Covid-19 vaccine. The question of when is complicated
“Should patients who volunteer to be in Covid-19 vaccine studies, but who are assigned to get placebo, be offered the vaccine? As companies and regulators raced to start clinical trials in the summer, that question was left open…”
‘It will change everything’: DeepMind’s AI makes gigantic leap in solving protein structures
Why is protein structure so important? A recent development with DeepMind AI has made history in determining a protein’s structure. What could this mean for future speed and discovery of drugs? What ethics has to be considered when using AI?
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...