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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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(China) Chinese scientist Li Ning gets 12 years in prison for embezzling US$4.3 million of government funds – South China Morning Post (Stephen Chen | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on March 14, 2020

  • Cloning expert and his colleague Zhang Lei from China Agricultural University in Beijing found guilty of moving funds to private firms the pair controlled
  • Court rejects claims money was moved to prevent a funding gap
A Chinese scientist arrested in 2014 for embezzling more than 34 million yuan (US$4.3 million) of research funds has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Another case that highlights how seriously China is taking research misconduct.

Dr Li Ning, an expert in cloning and former director of the State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology, was found guilty of illegally transferring the funds in the form of “investments” to several companies he controlled, though there was no evidence he spent any of the money on himself, the Intermediate People’s Court of Songyuan in northeast China’s Jilin province said in its verdict.

Li was also fined 3 million yuan, while his assistant, Dr Zhang Lei, was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison and fined 200,000 yuan on the same charge.

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When medical information comes from Nazi atrocities (Papers: Susan E Mackinnon | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on March 10, 2020

The nerve surgeon Susan Mackinnon discovered that an old but precise textbook she relied on was created by a Viennese anatomist who had dissected Hitler’s victims to produce his detailed illustrations. Should we still be using the illustrations, she asks

I first met the Atlas of Topographical and Applied Human Anatomy1 in 1982, when I was 32, during my hand fellowship at the Curtis National Hand Center in Baltimore. The atlas became my dissection partner during the many long hours spent in the anatomy laboratory at Johns Hopkins Hospital and later at the University of Toronto.


Also see:
Response to Medical information from Nazi atrocities transgresses the Nuremberg Code by Simon Gordon, Thomas Kadas, Peter Lantos and Afsana Safa


For several years, I knew the Pernkopf atlas (named after its author, Eduard Pernkopf, chair of anatomy and president of the University of Vienna) only as a unique and valued piece of science and art. However, in the late 1980s, I came across essays by Gerald Weissman, an Austrian born US physician-scientist at New York University, and David Williams, a medical illustrator of Purdue University, Indiana, exposing the origin of my dissection partner,23 calling it the “atlas of the Shoah,” derived during the Holocaust.

Once I, a gentile, came to know the truth of its origin, my attitude changed. I secured the atlas in my operative room locker, with printed copies of Weissman’s and Williams’s essays slipped into the atlas as a marker to anyone who might use it and a warning to “enter with caution.”

However, having already spent many years with the atlas, still the most detailed anatomy book I’ve ever seen, I continued to feel the need to refer to it occasionally for the sake of improving my patients’ surgical outcomes. Several times a month, while operating, I would struggle with the anatomical nuances of nerve pathways. The atlas showed me the way—an exact and safe surgical approach to the …

Mackinnon, S. E. (2020) When medical information comes from Nazi atrocities BMJ 368:l7075

(China & Australia) ANU study says China deliberately falsifying data on organ transplants – The Canberra Times (Kirsten Lawson | November 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on February 21, 2020

New research blows the lid on China’s claim to have stopped using prisoners and groups such as Falun Gong for organ donation, finding that China appears to have systematically falsified its official data.

The Australian National University research, published on Friday, said analysis of the data implied “deliberate human intervention”, showing centrally coordinated data falsification “has clearly taken place”.

Simply, the rise in the numbers of transplants was “too neat to be true” and appeared to be generated using a simple quadratic equation, familiar to high school students.

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