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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Friday afternoon’s funny – Consent: Location, location, location0

Posted by Admin in on April 3, 2020

Cartoon by Don Mayne
Full-size image for printing (right mouse click and save file)

Like location is an important consideration (some might say a primary consideration) in real estate, it is fundamental to the ethical design of consent processes.

Flattening the Curve, Then What? – The Hastings Center – Infographic Now Added (Mark A. Rothstein | March 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on March 29, 2020

The metaphor “flattening the curve” has succinctly captured the challenge of responding to the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. With no vaccine or effective treatment, the use of social distancing measures attempts to delay the spread of infection and keep the need for intensive, hospital-based health services within the capacity of our health care system. Unfortunately, too narrow a focus on flattening the curve may obscure larger gaps and deficiencies in our public health system that we have long ignored and must address.

A characteristically articulate and incisive reflection on where to next for COVID-19.

Besides lowering the peak demand for health services, the “flattening” approach includes raising the baseline of available resources, such as coronavirus tests, hospital and ICU beds, ventilators, personal protective equipment, and trained health care workers. In short, we need greater surge capacity. Although a lack of funding for public health infrastructure and personnel is evident, another key reason for a lack of surge capacity is that excess capacity is inconsistent with the business models of for-profit hospitals, bottom-line sensitive nonprofit hospitals, and underfunded public hospitals. Most hospital administrators and executives traditionally have sought to increase utilization rates and eliminate excess capacity, such as empty beds and unused equipment and supplies.

The nationwide pandemic also highlights the fragmentation of our public health system. Unlike most countries, the U.S. has no national public health agency, with public health primarily the responsibility of state and local governments. Many jurisdictions lack the financial means or expertise to respond to a public health emergency, including the ability to manage quarantine or other mandatory social distancing measures. The authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is limited to controlling international and interstate health threats, as well as providing research, education, laboratory services, data collection and analysis, consultation, and policy recommendations for the states. A more centralized public health structure, regardless of the merits, would run counter to practices in place since colonial times and reflected in the Constitution’s separation of powers between the federal and state governments.

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Infographic about COVID-19


To access the full-size infographic, right-click this link and select save as
The above infographic is a modified version of a resource from Shutterstock.

Friday afternoon’s funny – Risks already present0

Posted by Admin in on March 27, 2020

Cartoon by Don Mayne
Full-size image for printing (right mouse click and save file)

Some research projects (such as sport-related work) involve participants already engaged in a risky undertaking.  For research ethics reviewers this raises the question of whether their reflection on beneficence is the risks in the substantive activity or only the additional risk introduced by the research activity.

Is it right to cut corners in the search for a coronavirus cure? – The Guardian (Julian Savulescu | March 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on March 26, 2020

Vaccine and drug trials are slow, to account for safety. But in a pandemic time isn’t just money – it’s lives

The race is on to find a treatment for coronavirus. This race is split between two approaches: the trialling of pre-existing drugs used for similar diseases, and the hunt for a vaccine. In both instances, important ethical decisions must be made. Is it OK to reassign a treatment that comes with side-effects? And with thousands dying from coronavirus every day, is it acceptable to cut corners in the search for a vaccine?

We are really living through something that six months ago would have been a decidedly hypothetical bioethics vignette.   In the midst of a pandemic, how do you weigh lost and impacted lives when thinking about Phases I, II and III trials for a vaccine or cure?  We plan to write something about this for the subscribers’ area.  We have included links to 14 related items.
You may also like to watch this special TED discussion:…

Last Friday, the World Health Organization announced the launch of Solidarity, a worldwide trial of the four most promising candidate treatments for Covid-19: remdesivir, an antiretroviral treatment for Ebola; chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, both antimalarials; ritonavir, an HIV treatment; and interferon, a treatment for hepatitis C. Both Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle and China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences last week announced the start of human trials for new possible vaccines. Around 30 other research groups worldwide are working on vaccines.

But the WHO estimates that a vaccine won’t be ready until June 2021. There are requirements that have to be observed. The gold standard for this kind of research is the clinical trial – administering the vaccine to a large number of people in controlled conditions and measuring its effect. Usually scientists wait 14 months to monitor effectiveness and possible side-effects – which is why we may have to wait until next summer. Coronavirus vaccine trials face the following dilemma: we need treatment quickly but we also need to know it will work. The worst outcome for the medical industry would be a vaccine that either did not work or, worse, was harmful or had side-effects. Globally, faith in vaccines is already at an all-time low.

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