COVID is killing health care workers. Where’s the outrage? Why don’t we try to stop this?

In the United States, we value the lives of those who protect us. According to the FBI, 89 law enforcement officers died in line-of-duty incidents last year. Each of those deaths is a tragedy, often marked by funeral processions of hundreds of squad cars from around the country. We mourn those deaths because we know the officers died protecting us. Perhaps that’s one reason we see so many “Defend the Police” yard signs.

What would the country do if more than 1,000 police officers — more than a tenfold increase — died in a single year? There would be outcries from the White House and both sides of the political aisle. We’d see House and Senate hearings to identify who was at fault, what was wrong and how to safeguard our police. Those hearings would culminate in a bill to provide new funding and equipment to protect our law enforcement officers. The bill proudly would be signed in an Oval Office ceremony amid great fanfare.

Yet during COVID-19, we’re seeing a group of public servants dying in the line of duty with comparatively little fanfare. As of last week, 1,336 health care worker deaths from COVID-19 exposure on the job have been reported to an investigative database. Another study using more inclusive criteria puts the total at hundreds more.

Recipe for disaster, lost lives

The victims range from food service workers to nurses to specialist physicians. Health care worker deaths are not tracked as systematically as law enforcement deaths, but a 2002 study found that 80-260 health care workers die annually of work-related infections. If correct, that suggests COVID-19 has caused about a tenfold increase in those deaths — the same increase that would provoke political outrage if it struck police officers. Yet after the initial flurry of “support our heroes” signs early in the pandemic, health care worker deaths have drawn comparatively little attention.

The obvious question, the one the Trump administration should be asking, is why this is occurring. Several factors contribute, but the most important is that the more COVID-19 cases occur, the more COVID-19 patients require health care, especially those most ill. The more patients are receiving health care, the more health care workers are exposed. And the more health care workers are exposed, the more likely that some of them will acquire on-the-job infections.

National COVID-19 Remembrance on Oct. 4, 2020, in Washington, D.C.
National COVID-19 Remembrance on Oct. 4, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

The answer to the question “Why have so many health care workers died in the U.S.?” is simple: “Because our national leaders have so mismanaged the outbreak.” When you have an administration that degrades its own public health scientists, denies the value of masks and social distancing that has been so effective around the world, and misleads the public as to the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s a recipe for disaster that has claimed over 1,300 people who committed themselves to our health.

COVID-19: My stepfather died alone as Trump throws unmasked rallies

America’s own Government Accountability Office

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The precision medicine conference you don’t want to miss

Mark your calendars. MedCity’s INVEST Precision Medicine virtual conference is coming up December 9-11. The summit gathers directors through the C-suite from across healthcare sectors to discuss new developments in precision medicine, investment trends, and how health IT, diagnostics and biopharma technology are being used to improve outcomes.

Previously known as CONVERGE, the subject matter of this conference has focused on oncology for the past two years. We made the decision to shift it to precision medicine to widen the scope of the conference beyond cancer care to include chronic and rare disease.

Some of the topics that will be discussed at the conference include:

  • Reimbursement models for cell and gene therapies
  • Interoperability progress report
  • What does the diagnostics landscape look like?
  • Investment trends in precision medicine
  • Startup presentations in life science and health IT

Among the speakers are:

  • Jeffrey Low, M.D., Principal, Novo Growth
  • Christopher McFadden, Managing Director, KKR
  • Kevin Chaney, Senior Program Manager, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT
  • Ida Sim, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
  • Niko Skievaski, Co-Founder and President, Redox

You can check out the agenda here.

Tickets are available for $149 but an early-bird rate is available for $49 if you register now with the code MCN100. Sponsors include Independence Blue Cross and JPOD.

For questions about your INVEST registration, please contact [email protected]

Photo: Getty Images

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The Trumps don’t seem to understand that their supporters are dying from the coronavirus

For two consecutive nights, as President Trump was barnstorming swing states, his two eldest sons appeared on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News program, where they dismissed the threat posed by the coronavirus.



a man wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up during a campaign rally at Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Goodyear, Arizona, U.S., October 28, 2020. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)


© Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up during a campaign rally at Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Goodyear, Arizona, U.S., October 28, 2020. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

On Wednesday, Eric Trump made his appearance. His interview was centered on the unfounded claim that social media companies were “censoring” conservatives.

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“The one thing you don’t want to do to Americans is take away their free speech. It’s our First Amendment right for a reason,” he said, conflating Twitter’s efforts to stem disinformation with government censorship of speech.

“I’m telling you,” he added, “people aren’t happy about it. I think it’s probably become the number one issue in politics in the last couple of weeks.”

A claim that social media companies adding warnings to false claims by the president (which is really the recent spur for this frustration) is the number one issue in politics is unquestionably ridiculous. That the son of the president, someone who has been on the campaign trail stumping for his father, would say this with sincerity during a period when deaths from the coronavirus are on the rise is simply callous.

On Thursday, though, his brother Donald Trump Jr. tried to tell Ingraham that deaths weren’t on the rise.

“The reality is this,” he said. “I put it up on my Instagram a couple days ago, because I went through the CDC data, because I kept hearing about new cases, but I was like why aren’t they talking about deaths? Oh, oh: because the number is almost nothing.”

As The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake reported, Trump Jr.’s claim that deaths were down to “almost nothing” was a function of his making a mistake that has been made repeatedly over the course of the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks coronavirus deaths by confirming death certificates. Those certificates can come days or weeks after the deaths — deaths that are reported by counties and states in near real time. So the CDC numbers necessarily and demonstrably show fewer recent deaths but, over time, equivalent long-term totals.

It’s like arguing that there are very few coronavirus infections after scaling back testing for the virus. Which, of course, is what President Trump would like to do.

As his sons were misinforming Fox News viewers, Trump was misinforming attendees at his rallies.

“A safe vaccine is coming very quickly — you’re going to have it momentarily — that eradicates the virus,” he told a crowd in Arizona on Wednesday. “And we’re rounding the turn regardless.”

This assertion from Trump that the country is “rounding the turn” on the virus even without a vaccine is as untrue as his son’s claim that deaths are falling. Both cases and deaths are up, the former leading the latter by about two weeks. On Thursday, the country saw

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Psoriasis Meds Don’t Raise Risk of Severe COVID-19: Study | Health News

By Cara Roberts Murez, HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

TUESDAY, Oct. 27, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Researchers in the United Kingdom have reassuring news for people with psoriasis based on the first analysis of a global registry of COVID-19 patients who also have the skin disease.

Moderate-to-severe cases of psoriasis are treated with drugs that suppress the immune system. This analysis of the international PsoProtect registry found that more than 90% of psoriasis patients survive infection with the new coronavirus.

“We can reassure our patients that the survival for people with psoriasis is high, and the risk factors for psoriasis patients are similar to those of the general population,” said Dr. Satveer Mahil, a consultant dermatologist at St. John’s Institute of Dermatology in London, who co-leads the registry.

The registry was established to understand how psoriasis and the medications used to treat it affect severity of COVID-19, according to a news release from the U.K.’s National Institute for Health Research.

Psoriasis is a skin disease believed to be related to an immune system problem. It causes red patches and flaky plaques of skin that are covered with silvery scales.

The findings were recently published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

For the study, the researchers analyzed 374 cases from 25 countries in which psoriasis patients had COVID-19 between March and July 2020. About 71% were taking biologic medications and 18% were taking traditional immunosuppressants. About 93% fully recovered from COVID-19, 21% were hospitalized and 2% died.

Helen McAteer is chief executive of the Psoriasis Association. She said, “From the beginning of the pandemic, we understood the importance of being proactive in order to address the many concerns expressed by people who are living with psoriasis. The PsoProtect registry is vital in helping us understand more about the interactions between psoriasis, its treatments and COVID-19 infection so patients can make the most informed choices about their care and treatment at this challenging time.”

Copyright © 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Some Americans concerned about possible side effects of a COVID-19 vaccine: “We just don’t know enough”

“CBS This Morning” explores whether America is ready for a coronavirus vaccine in a special three-part series, Road to a Vaccine. Part two airs on Tuesday, October 27 and part three airs Wednesday, October 28 on “CBS This Morning,” 7-9 a.m. on CBS.


Two major clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines are resuming in the United States, after being paused over safety concerns. Estimates show the earliest time for an approved vaccine could be the end of November.

But a recent STAT-Harris poll showed a sharp decrease in the number of Americans who would get a vaccine right away.

CBS News senior medical correspondent Dr. Tara Narula spoke with a wide-ranging group about their thoughts on a vaccine.

Asked to rank their confidence level in a vaccine on a scale of 1 to 10, California resident Seana-Marie Sesma said 6; fellow Californian Adam Davis said 7.5; Lissi Marshall, a neuroscience college student from Philadelphia, said 7 or 8; Michigan resident Alyssa Kogut, who is diabetic, said 8; and Chad St. Clair, who is from California, said 1 or 2. 

St. Clair is adamant he will not get the vaccine, while Kogut said she definitely will. Marshall said she trusts the science but will wait a few months to get a vaccine. Sesma is still unsure due to concerns about potential side effects, and Davis is hesitant but open to it.

“If somehow, after however many months the participants of the preliminary vaccine research start to come out with any side effects … that would definitely change my mind,” Marshall told Narula. 

“I feel that, though the FDA has done the majority of good things, they have also taken products off the market that they approved at one point,” Sesma said. 

“We just don’t know enough about the vaccine yet. I’m young, I’m healthy. I exercise. And I’m low risk,” St. Clair said.

Sesma agreed with him. “We don’t know much about the vaccine or the long-term — short-term or long-term effects,” she said. 

Davis agreed he is concerned about potential risks or side effects. But Kogut said it was the “opposite” for her. 

“I know this virus, and I know what it can do to you,” she said. “I have diabetes, and my daughter has asthma. She’s only 7. So I would definitely take it to protect me and my kids.”

St. Clair said he is “on the other side.”

“I don’t want to panic. I know a lot of people who have had it and have recovered nicely, as well as our leader of our country,” he said. 

“For me, if I see people actually taking it and working, I’d be more inclined to do it,” Davis said.

Dr. Kathryn Stephenson, director of the Clinical Trials Unit of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, participated in the early development of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine candidate, and is an investigator in trials of other COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

Asked how she reassures people

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Don’t Let Covid-19 Delay Your Own Cancer Screening

Brenda Hudson waited a few months to get a mammogram because she was concerned about being exposed to the coronavirus.



Photo:

Mary Inhea Kang for The Wall Street Journal

Cancer doesn’t take a pause, and screenings can save lives (“Drop in Cancer Screenings Fuels Worry,” U.S. News, Oct. 16). Health-care providers are taking Covid-19 seriously and have implemented numerous safeguards to safely provide critical screenings and cancer treatments. Eight months into this pandemic, your health-care providers have learned a lot about how to protect their patients and themselves during screening appointments. For more information on how to reschedule your medical screenings and appointments, the easiest thing you can do is to call and talk with your doctor’s office. It is so important to get those screenings back on the books.

Carolyn Aldigé

CEO, Prevent Cancer Foundation

Alexandria, Va.

People don’t have to sit back and wait until they feel safe going to see a doctor to get screened for colon cancer. They can use Cologuard at-home colon cancer screening kits. The earlier colon cancer is caught, the better the outcome can be for the patient. It’s important to screen on time and stay up to date.

Kevin Conroy

CEO, Exact Sciences

Madison, Wis.

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Life after COVID-19: Crisis may be over, but ailments don’t always disappear

Months after his hospitalization for COVID-19, Gary Degrijze still can’t grasp a coffee cup handle. Ron Panzok suffers from pain in his left foot. Shirelle White needs supplemental oxygen to breathe.

The three are among the many COVID-19 patients who are enduring the effects of the disease months later. The virus is so new in humans that scientists don’t know how long patients will continue experiencing debilitating long-term effects and whether some of them will have complications the rest of their lives.

“It leads to a lot of frustration,” said Dr. Ewa Rakowski, a pulmonary critical care doctor at Stony Brook Medicine, which is preparing to open a specialized center for those with long-term COVID-19 complications. “They want an explanation and want to know when they can expect to feel back to normal, and we just don’t really have that yet.”

It’s not just those who were hospitalized with severe symptoms of COVID-19 who are still struggling.

“We are also seeing patients who didn’t require hospitalization or really much medical care, and they’re still coming in with the prolonged symptoms of shortness of breath, fatigue, persistent cough and mental fogginess,” Rakowski said.

Degrijze, of Bellport, doesn’t fit most people’s image of someone who almost died of COVID-19. He’s 49 and had to pass a strenuous physical exam every year for the Army Reserve.

“I’ve been perfectly healthy for the majority of my life,” said Degrijze, who was a United States Postal Service letter carrier for 26 years and hopes to one day return to delivering mail.

He spent 2 1/2 months at Stony Brook University Hospital — most of that time on a ventilator — and another two weeks in rehabilitation.

Degrijze’s breathing has greatly improved, but, “I have good and bad days,” he said. “There are days I might walk halfway around the block and I’m like, ‘I’m starting to feel a little out of breath.’ “

Joint pain means he can’t stand or walk for long, and sitting too much leads to lower back pain.

“I have very limited strength in my right arm” because of nerve damage,” he said. “I barely have any strength in my wrists. It’s like my fingers are jammed at the knuckles. It’s almost as if I had a stroke, and I didn’t.”

Degrijze goes to physical therapy three times a week. Doctors don’t know if his arm and hand will ever fully heal.

“They tell me they don’t know how much strength and mobility in my arm and hand I can get back,” he said. “It may be 90%, it may be 70%. They just don’t know.”

Like ‘walking on rocks’

Other than high blood pressure, Panzok, 66, had no major health problems before COVID-19. He, too, almost died from the virus. He spent about two months in a coma

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Healthy adults ‘don’t need to go to the dentist every six months’

Going to the dentist is a miserable chore which is universally disliked, and we are often told we should go twice a year to keep our teeth and gums in good condition.

However, a new study has found that healthy adults can get away with going just once every two years.

UK researchers claim routine six-monthly check-up appointments do not improve oral health and could be a drain on national resources.   

Less frequent dental trips would reduce demand on dental services during the pandemic and would also save Brits money, they suggest. 

In England, people have to pay £22.70 for check-ups unless they’re under 18 years old, on low income, are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months. 

Their review could also provide reassurance to patients who have missed routine dental check-ups due to Covid-19 restrictions. 

The experts stressed that their findings apply to adults with good dental health and don’t apply for children or people needing emergency dental treatment.  

University of Dundee, University of Manchester and Cochrane Oral Health conducted a systematic review to identify the best time interval between dental check-ups for maintaining good oral health. They say six monthly intervals is too frequent for healthy adults

University of Dundee, University of Manchester and Cochrane Oral Health conducted a systematic review to identify the best time interval between dental check-ups for maintaining good oral health. They say six monthly intervals is too frequent for healthy adults

‘The review shows that current practice of scheduling six-monthly check-up appointments for all patients does not improve oral health,’ said Patrick Fee at the University of Dundee, who led the review. 

‘[This compares] to a personalised risk-based check-up approach or compared to check-ups every two years where patients are at low risk of dental disease.

‘Current practice of six-monthly check-ups could be considered an inefficient use of NHS resources, adding unnecessary patient and health service costs for no gain in dental health outcomes.

‘Patient access to dental care may remain limited for some time – however, the results of this review provide reassurance to those providing and seeking dental treatment that intervals between check-ups can be extended beyond six months without detriment to the oral health of patients.

‘Six-monthly check-ups are highly valued by the general population and moving towards personalised risk-based check-ups will require the cooperation of health care policy makers, clinician knowledge and patient involvement.’  

The last NHS dental statistics for 2019/20 found that only 49.6 per cent of adults had attended an NHS dentist in the previous two years, let alone six months. 

Despite this, check-ups function as an oral cancer screening, the British Dental Association pointed out to MailOnline.

Cases of oral cancer are growing fast and the condition claims more lives in the UK each year than car accidents.

WHO IS ENTITLED TO FREE DENTAL TREATMENT IN ENGLAND?

You don’t have to pay for NHS dental treatment if you’re:

  • under 18, or under 19 and in full-time education
  • pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months
  • being treated in an NHS hospital and your treatment is carried out by the hospital dentist (but you may have to pay for any dentures or bridges)
  • receiving low income benefits, or you’re
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Don’t Give up on COVID-19 Plasma, Experts Say, After Study Finds No Benefit | Top News

LONDON (Reuters) – Researchers called on Friday for more research into using blood from recovered COVID-19 patients – or so-called convalescent plasma – as a potential treatment, after a small trial of hospitalised patients in India found it was of no benefit

The Indian results, published in the BMJ British Medical Journal, found that the plasma, which delivers antibodies from COVID-19 survivors to infected people, did not help hospitalised patients fight off the infection, and failed to reduce death rates or halt progression to severe disease.

The findings are a setback for a potential therapy that U.S. President Donald Trump touted in August as a “historic breakthrough”, and one experts say has been used in some 100,000 patients in the United States already, despite limited evidence on its efficacy.

Scientists not directly involved in the India study, which involved around 460 patients, said its results were disappointing but should not mean doctors give up hope altogether on convalescent plasma.

They said further and larger trials are needed, including in COVID-19 patients with milder disease and those newly infected.

“With just a few hundred patients, (the India trial) is still much too small to give clear results,” said Martin Landray, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Britain’s Oxford University.

“One could well imagine that the treatment might work particularly well in those earlier in the course of the disease or who have not been able to mount a good antibody response to the virus of their own,” he said. “But such speculation needs to be tested – we can’t just rely on an educated guess.”

While the United States and India have authorised convalescent plasma for emergency use, other countries, including Britain, are collecting donated plasma so that the treatment could be widely rolled out if it is shown to be effective.

The Indian researchers enrolled 464 adults with COVID-19 who were admitted to hospitals across India between April and July. They were randomly split into two groups – with one receiving two transfusions of convalescent plasma alongside best standard care, and the other getting best standard care only.

After seven days, use of convalescent plasma seemed to improve some symptoms, such as shortness of breath and fatigue, and led to higher rates of so-called negative conversion – a sign that the virus is being neutralised by antibodies.

But this did not translate into a reduction in deaths or progression to severe disease by 28 days.

Ian Jones, a Reading University professor of virology, agreed with Landray that plasma may be more likely to work very soon after someone contracts COVID-19.

He urged these and other researchers to continue to conduct trials, and to do so in newly diagnosed patients.

“We still do not have enough treatments for the early stage of disease to prevent severe disease and until this becomes an option, avoiding being infected with the virus remains the key message,” he said.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Peter Graff and Frances Kerry)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters

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Alabama’s lt. governor is COVID-positive. Y’all don’t be so negative.

This is an opinion column.

Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth is getting some nasty messages since he tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Guess Karma and Natural Selection caught up with your dumb white ass,” said one email Ainsworth shared with me. “May you die gasping for your last breath!”

It’s probably not a spiritually safe practice to invoke karma in one sentence before wishing someone death in the next, but moving on.

“You’re 1 step closer to (skull emoji, coffin emoji, laughing-through-tears emoji),” one fellow tweeted at him.

Yes, when sending hate-tweets, please limit your hieroglyphics to three.

Let’s be clear, no matter how you feel about Ainsworth, wishing death on people is not OK. No matter how cathartic it might feel, it’s not good for your soul, and from a more secular standpoint, it just gives the folks you’re hate-mailing more reason to believe you’re crazy and they’re right.

Which is a shame, because I believe there’s a lesson the lieutenant governor could learn here, and I think there’s a better message he could send than the one he’s been sharing, before and after his diagnosis.

Since Ainsworth went public with his test (points for transparency), he has been a bit defensive about it. That’s understandable. The lieutenant governor has criticized Gov. Kay Ivey for keeping a statewide mask mandate in place, and he’s said the decision whether to wear a mask should be left to the individual. He still says that, even now.

But Wednesday night, Ainsworth wanted to make clear he’d been wearing a mask when he thinks he contracted the disease.

“Because I follow social distancing rules and wear a mask both in church and in my daily interactions, the positive result shows that even those of us who are the most cautious can be at risk,” he said.

Now, others on social media have found pictures of Ainsworth not doing either of those things. Heck, he shares them on Twitter. But I’ll let that be.

Again, there’s a bigger lesson to be learned here.

Ainsworth tested positive on Wednesday and says he suspects he contracted the disease at his church on Sunday. Aside from a runny nose — which he told me allergies give him much of the year — he hasn’t had any symptoms. He had been active on Monday and Tuesday, and he played tennis the night before he tested positive. If it weren’t for his pastor informing him a member of his Sunday school class had fallen ill, Ainsworth says he might never have checked.

And that’s the thing. And let’s shout this one so the sinners’ pew can hear it: Masks aren’t to protect you from the disease; they protect others when you have the disease and don’t know it.

It doesn’t matter so much whether Ainsworth wore a mask at church. It matters whether the person he got it from was wearing a mask.

And it matters less whether he was wearing a mask on Sunday than if he wore

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