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Future of Medicine #14

  • Vaccine in Latin America
  • Volunteers for trials
  • High-value care?
  • R number and K number
Published every Wednesday

The Wire

‘India Probably Has Tens of Millions of COVID-19 Infections Already’

New Delhi: Citing numbers that could come as a shock to many people, Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Washington-based Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy has said that India probably already has tens of millions of COVID-19 infected people. He says the nationwide part of the ICMR’s recent serological survey which suggests that 0.73% of the population has been exposed to the virus corroborates this. Laxminarayan says he believes India could have 200 million COVID infected people by September.

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Latin American scientists join the coronavirus vaccine race: ‘No one’s coming to rescue us’

Researchers fear that breakthroughs from abroad will be too slow or inequitably shared to benefit the global south.

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The Intercept

The Abrupt, Radical Reversal in How Public Health Experts Now Speak About the Coronavirus and Mass Gatherings

The former Director of the CDC and New York City Health Commission Tom Frieden similarly pronounced that “the threat to Covid control from protesting outside is tiny” — tiny!! — “compared to the threat to Covid control created when governments act in ways that lose community trust.” Prior to the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department and the resulting outbreak of mass street protests, did you hear any respected, mainstream health expert minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission in that way? I most certainly did not. “People can protest peacefully AND work together to stop Covid,” he added. Prior to George Floyd’s killing, were you aware that one could “work to stop Covid” by leaving one’s house to join mass street protests?

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Washington Post

Volunteers sign up to put their lives on the line for a coronavirus vaccine

More than 28,000 volunteers have joined a new online organization, 1Day Sooner, hoping that by placing themselves in the path of the virus, the pandemic will end sooner.

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Editor’s Note:

The often unheralded part of research on coronavirus vaccines is the humans themselves who are necessary to prove whether things work. Here WaPo looks at challenge trials as well as the ethics behind them.


Nothing Like SARS: Researchers Warn The Coronavirus Will Not Fade Away Anytime Soon

Let’s think back to the early days of 2020, before a pandemic was declared. A new virus had surfaced and was infecting humans but had limited global spread. The World Health Organization and other health officials hoped that this novel coronavirus could be contained and wiped out.

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‘We’ve got to be able to move more quickly.’ The pandemic reality of COVID-19 clinical trials

The novel coronavirus has upended the world of clinical research, with scientists under pressure to identify effective treatments for COVID-19 and vaccines to prevent new infections. More than 22,000 papers on the virus have been published this year, and more than 2000 trials are underway. They are testing everything from clot-busting drugs to monoclonal antibodies to convalescent plasma donated by patients who have recovered — not to mention a growing number of vaccines. But with speed borne of desperation comes risk and confusion — of trials too small to yield answers, of treatments overhyped, and of uncertainty about how to design the best studies possible.

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The Conversation

Is the K number the new R number? What you need to know

Just a few months ago, no one, aside from epidemiologists and their ilk, had heard of the R number. Now, thanks to the coronavirus, everyone has heard of it and most people can tell you that it’s the reproduction number, an indicator of whether the number of infected people is increasing or decreasing.

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Editor’s Note:

What is the K number? Here Adam Kleczkowski of University of Strathclyde explains the “dispersion parameter” that is important for looking at the concept of super-spreading.

The Hill

Re-examining the delivery of high-value care through COVID-19

Over the past months, the country and the economy have radically shifted to unchartered territory. Now more than ever, we must reexamine how we spend health care dollars.

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Arizona Republic

Arizona’s COVID-19 spread is ‘alarming’ and action is needed, experts warn

Instead, it looks like the state is trending upward in a way that is concerning and could need another stay-at-home order to curb the spread.

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Editor’s Note:

Corona outbreaks are often tallied on the national level, but in large countries such as the US there are major differences from city to city or state to state. Here the team at the Republic looks at Arizona, which according to one model is faring worse than others at keeping the disease under control.

Inside Higher Ed

Study says biological research still treats female subjects as an afterthought

Study says biological research still treats female subjects as an afterthought. But “sex inclusion” in the sample has its critics.

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