Archive for the ‘public health’ Category
In an extraordinary move Tuesday, nine top pharmaceutical executives made a public pledge that they will not prematurely release a COVID-19 vaccine and that they will only seek federal approval to distribute a vaccine after rigorous ethical and scientific standards are met.
The pledge was signed by the CEOs of AstraZeneca, BioNTech, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer, and Sanofi. All of the represented companies are working on a vaccine against COVID-19 and four—AstraZeneca, Moderna, and a joint venture between BioNTech and Pfizer—have vaccines in phase 3 clinical trials.
The vow appears to be a coordinated resistance to pressure from the Trump administration, which is pushing for a rollout of a vaccine by November 1, just before the presidential election. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told states to be ready to start distributing vaccines by November 1.
Citing the risks of COVID-19 spread, the Trump administration on Tuesday said it would halt US evictions through the end of the year, wielding a rarely used power of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Under the order, the CDC is halting residential evictions of people who are unable to pay full rent due to income loss and who expect to earn no more than $99,000 in income this year (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return). Renters hoping to be protected by the order must also certify, under penalty of perjury, that if they are evicted, they “would likely become homeless, need to move into a homeless shelter, or need to move into a new residence shared by other people who live in close quarters because [they] have no other available housing options.”
The order does not offer any financial relief—either for renters or for housing providers—and it doesn’t relieve anyone from having to pay their rent in full eventually. It also doesn’t prevent housing providers from charging interest or applying fees and penalties.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is promoting policies that will prolong the COVID-19 pandemic and, as such, states and local leaders should disregard the agency and strike out on their own. That’s according to Harold Varmus, the Nobel-prize-winning scientist and former director of the National Institutes of Health, and Rajiv Shah, the former administrator of the United States Agency for International Development and current president of the Rockefeller Foundation.
The two laid out their argument against the CDC in a searing opinion piece in The New York Times Monday, titled: “It Has Come to This: Ignore the CDC.”
Varmus and Shah’s dramatic disavowal of the country’s leading public health agency was spurred by its abrupt changes last week to COVID-19 testing guidance, which now discourages testing of people who have been exposed to the pandemic coronavirus but do not have symptoms.
A new advisor to President Donald Trump is reportedly advocating that the pandemic coronavirus spread largely unrestrained so that the United States can reach “herd immunity”—an idea that infectious disease experts call “absolutely absurd,” “simply wrong,” and a strategy that actually amounts to the absence of a strategy, which could leave hundreds of thousands of more Americans dead.
Still, according to reporting by The Washington Post, the idea is being pushed by Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist from Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institution, who began advising Trump in August. In his short tenure so far, Professor Atlas has repeatedly made statements contrary to scientific evidence, such as saying that children do not spread the virus.
Officials say Atlas was recruited to the advisory role counter the advice of Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, and Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator. One senior administration official said Atlas, who has no background in infectious diseases, sees himself as the “anti-Dr. Fauci.”